Chu Li did not follow in. He picked up his book once again and sat by the stone table, quietly reading beneath the plum tree.
The smell of herbs lingered around the house as Siao Shi leaned against a raised pillow semi seated, listlessly sizing Song Liuying mother and daughter combo who were entering the house.
Song Liuying curtseyed and smiled, "Sister Siao."
Leng Qing curtseyed and did not say a word. She curiously checked her out, wanting to know how beautiful could Ji Dynasty's first beauty be.
Siao Shi revealed a gentle smile, "Sister Song, come in and sit."
She has never seen Song Liuying but spoke as if they were longtime friends. She sighed, "It should be me to visit Sister Song but now I need to trouble you to personally come over."
"I dare not." Song Liuying smiled, "Sister Siao is the princess consort, an honorable position above us all. How could one from beneath be arrogant on one that is above? If Your Royal Highness were to know, it would be a good dressing down."
Siao Shi smiled, "I have long heard of His Royal Highness sailing a tight ship at home but there really isn't a need to be strict with us, no?"
Song Liuying cheerfully smiled, "Sister Siao has yet to understand His Royal Highness. He's focused on matters concerning the Imperial Court and rarely on little matters regarding the household. If we bother him with these trifling matters, he would be pissed off."
"Men." Siao Shi brightly smiled, "I would have to trouble sister Song for everything in the Imperial Residence. My body can't keep up, even if I wanted to."
"Dereliction of Commander Zheng and the rest." Song Liuying tightened her face and spurted with hatred, "So many masters yet someone could just blatantly force their way in and wound sister Siao. Such negligence."
"That person's martial arts is too powerful," Siao Shi shook her head and sighed, "The House of High Duke has offended many from the world of martial arts. To have such an outcome is predictable but for the stability of the Imperial Court, the House of High Duke has no choice but to continue suppressing these people from the world of martial arts, inviting assassinations over and over again."
"Sigh...". Song Liuying sighed, "Sister Siao must be having a hard time. Just entering the Imperial Residence and already lying on the couch. No freedom whatsoever."
Siao Shi smiled, "It's quite alright. It's been this way since I was young that it's a habit. I've gotten better earlier but now it's back. It's as though my life revolves around sickness and bedrest."
"Do not say such words." Song Liuying advised, "There's good days head for you, His Royal Highness will see to the murderer."
"I prefer if His Royal Highness not to bother with that person," Siao Shi shook his head, "Or else the one in danger is not me but His Royal Highness, or perhaps even you two. Such a master is rare to see. It's better not to be involved."
"This sort of fellow is too dangerous." Song Liuying frowned, "The Imperial Residence is no longer safe. It is worrisome."
The thought of that fellow assassinating her sent chills to her spine.
Siao Shi smiled, "However, with Chu Li around, I'm not afraid if that person returns."
Song Liuying's arched brows raised slightly, "What talent does Chief Chu possess that is higher than Commander Zheng?"
Siao Shi laughed, "His Light Body Technique is superb, even if he can't beat them, he could run from them!"
"Superb Light Body Technique..." Song Liuying heard what she meant. It wasn't about beating that fellow but the ability to run away. This was a good idea.
"Sister Siao is so lucky to have Chief Chu who has great Light Body Technique." Song Liuying laughed, "It's a shame that Chu Li had to attend to a banquet or sister Siao wouldn't have suffered such wounds."
"It can't be helped." Siao Shi sighed, "He didn't want to go to the banquet and wasn't convinced of the safety of the Imperial Residence. I reprimanded him to go. Although he is first rank, he can't just look down on his colleagues."
"I wonder what position would His Royal Highness place Chief Chu under." Song Liuying said, "First rank is just beneath His Royal Highness in the Imperial Residence and other positions will not cut it."
"That would depend on His Royal Highness." Siao Shi duly replied, "We as spouses should not question."
"Indeed," Song Liuying smiled.
She was wary internally. Those from the House of High Duke were no ordinary people.
Just as they were conversing, a noise could be heard from the outside.
Chu Li placed his scroll down and got up to closed fist salute.
A young woman with a petite and nimble figure with a sweet appearance treaded over. Next to her was a teenager of fourteen or fifteen age that was pretty and innocent but carried an expressionless face.
The sweet woman was in yellow, her complexion was glowing. When she entered the courtyard and saw Chu Li, she frowned, "Who are you?"
Chu Li closed fist saluted, "Princess Xue, Chu Li at your service."
"So you're Chu Li?" Xue Ningyu side glanced him and nodded, "I heard of you but you, a man remaining here is not appropriate."
Chu Li answered, "It is unstable in the Imperial Residence at the moment. The young lady cannot go through this again. I can only protect her from here."
"How loyal!" Xue Ningyu scoffed, "But you are still a man. You should stay away when appropriate before you get on His Royal Highness' nerves."
"Yes, thank you for Princess Xue's guidance," Chu Li closed fist saluted.
Xue Ningbo snorted, "If it wasn't for your loyalty, I wouldn't say so much. Let's go, Qiu Er."
She tugged Leng Qiu who was curiously sizing Chu Li, to enter the house.
Once inside, she waved her hand at Yang Xu and Xue Ling who were saluting. She came close and smiled, "Oh, sister Song is here too. Sister Siao."
She curtseyed at Siao Shi and somewhat at Song Liuying. Her arrogance was leaking through.
Leng Qiu who was beside her, curtseyed properly without the least bit negligence at Siao Shi, Song Liuying and Leng Qing.
Siao Shi gently smiled, "Sorry to trouble sister Xue to personally come over."
"Don't be a stranger, sister Siao. We are a family. Did he really stab you in the heart?" Xue Ningyu shoved Song Liuying in the front and came close to the couch to express her concern, "This damn fellow. How cruel. How could he assault such a beauty like you. He's not a man!"
Siao Shi smiled, "I was almost dead."
"Heaven helps the worthy." Xue Ningyu smiled, "How much suffering and challenges did sister Siao come to this to talk about death? There's light at the end of the tunnel. Your fortune is coming forth now!"
Siao Shi smiled, "My body is considered destroyed now, what fortune can I have?"
"His Royal Highness will love you more." Xue Ningyu pursed her lips into a smile, "All the love in the world, how can that not be good fortune!"
Siao Shi shook her head and smiled, "You have children with you but I'm destined to be alone. Once I get older, I can only be a nun!"
She spoke so pitifully that it was heart wrenching for the two women. They knew that this was the inevitable truth.
The doting of a man would not last forever. Once they were old and without a child by their side, they were a rootless duckweed, swept aside without a care. What a sad and dreadful life.
Xue Ningyu said, "Sister Siao, you still have Chu Li! .... He is first rank and would have a piece of the Imperial Residence. His Royal Highness is having trouble to see where to place him? Isn't that right, Sister Song?"
Song Liuying duly replied, "How can we as women talk about this matter?"
Xue Ningyu smiled, "The way I see it, Song Sansi that old fart should give up the position. He has reaped so many benefits from being in charge of the Imperial Residence. He should be content!"
Song Liuying remarked, "All for His Royal Highness to decide."
"How could Song Sansi that old fart dare to swindle money with Sister Song behind him?" Xue Ningyu scoffed, "I heard that a percentage of the scribes and maids' monthly wages has to be handed over to him. Done's Sister Song know about this?"