“Crown Prince, is that you?”
The soft feminine voice called to him from behind but it wasn’t Qian Qian. Ye Hua spun around, and faced a lass dressed in scarlet who was addressing him by name, even though concealed was he under a Fox spell. Recognition dawned on him and it was her niece, Bai Fengjiu.
Ye Hua responded to her inquiry with a single head nod that it was he. Bai Fengjiu glanced around nervously, and checked her surroundings before stepping to him. She moved closer until they were an arm’s reach apart. “Where’s Qian Qian?” His only question was this as he began to feel unsettled, and uneasy about being in Ten Miles with the young princess. Something was wrong; he felt it internally.
She confirmed his worry. “There isn’t much time.” Bai Fengjiu spoke swiftly in a hurried jumpy manner that precisely matched the anxious expression on her face, “Please listen carefully to what I’m about to tell you. My aunt is still too frail to use her magic due to her weak heart. We tried to sneak her out the other day and today but couldn’t. There was a spell, a magic barrier that kept her from leaving so I had to come alone.”
She looked around flustered. There was genuine fear in her gaze, and her cheeks flushed almost as red as her dress, which only amplified Ye Hua’s anxiety, “Crown Prince, my grandmother believes you are not the monster they say you are, and that you’re innocent of all the terrible crimes of which you’ve been accused.”
Bai Fengjiu pulled from the sleeve of her dress, and tensely passed Ye Hua a tag from the Fox Empress. It was a royal seal for unrestricted passage through all five Qingqiu realms without inspection. On the backside there with a mysterious map that only appeared, after making contact with his skin.
“My Grandmother said to stay in my uncle’s appearance, and follow the map to the secret location. Wait there until it’s safe for you to travel. Your uncle, Prince Lian Song, is already there waiting for you with everything you’ll need to reach your final destination. Both hideouts where you’ll be residing are my grandmother’s maternal homes unknown to my grandfather.”
“This is the first time my grandmother has gone against my grandfather. It’s her earnest hope to get Gugu to you so you two can run away. But time is running out and it might be safer for you to move alone. As soon as Gugu is stable, we’ll tell her about your trial and send her to you.”
“I can’t leave my son A-Li…” Bai Fengjiu rudely cuts Ye Hua off and stressed now with the utmost urgency, “My grandmother and I will care for A-Li but you MUST go and stay alive. Crown Prince, if anything happens to you, my aunt will follow you in death. She’s been telling everyone that she’s going to marry you as soon as she’s recovered, and making plans to return to Nine Heavens. I have my reservations about her being with you after SuSu but Gugu loves you, and that’s all that matters.”
She shook her head knowing it wasn’t her place to say anything else, and instead whispered, “I wish you safe passage in your travels and when we get Gugu to you, please make her happy.” Bai Fengjiu rounded her arms and turned to leave when Ye Hua stopped her. He handed her the black dagger he had brought for Qian Qian. “This dagger is dragon stone. I had it made from my Dragon Scales. Tell Qian Qian to keep this near and on her at all times. One stab to the heart is fatal, and will instantly kill anyone regardless of their elite cultivation or life force. And tell her that I love her.”
Bai Fengjiu apprehensively stared at the blade momentarily, and vanished within the peach trees. Ye Hua closed his hand around the tag tightly but knew he would never, could never leave without seeing A-Li. Yet he couldn’t ignore the Fox Empress taking such a massive risk of supporting him behind her husband’s back. And now he knew there was internal discord within the Fox Clan. Fortunately, there was someone on his side.
Bai Qian scrutinized the shiny black dagger in her open palm. It was smooth and glossy like nothing she had ever seen before. The blade was incredibly sharp slicing into her fingertip from the slightest touch, but a weapon from Ye Hua was the last thing she’d anticipated. “Fengjiu, what is this again and why did Ye Hua send this to me?” She demanded most earnest and pressed Fengjiu for more information with authority in her commanding tone of speech. “Did you ask him when he’s coming to see me and when can I visit with A-Li?”
Bai Fengjiu was unusually quiet and chewed her bottom lip as she did when she was nervous or frightened. Her niece’s eyes were starting to water from profound stress when Bai Qian’s gaze narrowed on her face suspiciously.
The girl whimpered, “Gugu, I can’t tell you. Grandfather and everyone told me not to say a word.” Bai Qian stepped closer to her niece directly in her face and glared her down in a way that made Fengjiu burst into tears. The girl sobbed uncontrollably but admitted in between wailings, “Gugu, Crown Prince has been accused of blinding you, planning your kidnapping, and sexually violating you while you were with him. He’s going to be executed.”
“What?! What did you say?! Ye Hua has been what?!” She feebly tottered, staggering unable to stand still or find balance. All the blood drained from her face leaving her coloring ashen and ghostly. Bai Qian lurched forward from shock before her eyes rolled back into her head. With her icy hand firmly pressed against her weak and painfully throbbing heart, she collapsed and fainted.
“Gugu! Gugu! Someone help me!” Bai Fengjiu screeched hysterically. Her loud screaming reverberated in the Fox Den, and Mo Yuan was the first to rush into Bai Qian’s room.
To be continued…