Chapter 14: Gentleman Gui Debuts (part 1)

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The first rays of dawn shone through the mist, bathing the capital in a warm glow. The morning sun lit up the courtyard at Xi Yuan, making the atmosphere tranquil and pleasant.

This environment was also useful for doing morning exercises. After Bai Xi learned that there was a ‘hidden guard’ following her, she vowed to become stronger, as she resented the feeling of being monitored.

“Young miss, madam sent some people over to give young miss some head ornaments1 and new clothes.” Mu Qiu grinned. This was really great. Madam had finally started to express concern over the young miss.

“Mm,” Bai Xi hummed as she halted her morning exercises to walk inside and wash off the sweat. She had no interest in the new head ornaments and clothes, but pondered Zhang Shu Yi’s strange sudden change of heart. From her past experiences with Zhang Shu Yi, the other woman’s resentment had run deep for the past ten years. That she had abruptly decided to care for her as her own daughter was suspicious.

She recalled the morning she had gone to visit Zhang Shu Yi. Zhang Shu Yi had not greeted her in the same way she had previously, instead welcoming her warmly and apologising. She didn’t even seem to remember the hatred she had harboured before. Such a change… How could she not be surprised? More importantly, since then, Zhang Shu Yi had sent not only high-quality clothes, but also hair pins, and many rare treasures, amongst other things.

Zhang Shu Yi had changed so quickly and completely. As Bai Xi had discovered, the change in Zhang Shu Yi’s attitude was not a half-hearted superficial attempt, which confused her. What had happened?

Didn’t Zhang Shu Yi hate her for killing her unborn daughter? Didn’t she want her dead? How could Zhang Shu Yi suddenly consider her as her own daughter with such affection? Was Bai Xi mistaken? Was she actually a part of the Bai family?

Bai Xi stared at the bronze mirror2 for a long time. Then she reached up to remove her mask, revealing her true appearance – hair as dark as ink flowed down, her skin white and flawless. Perhaps it was because her face was hidden under the mask all the time that her skin was pale and smooth like jade. Her lips were delicate like rose petals and her eyes were black and crystal clear.

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Upon closer inspection, Bai Xi realised that her face was similar to her dad’s, and so surely she was his daughter and a member of the Bai family. Only…

Although she was only 15, she believed that this face was beautiful enough to cause the downfall of a city3. Maybe this was the reason for the ordinary-looking face mask.

“Has young miss finished washing up? Young master has come to pick up young miss.” Mu Qiu called through the door.

Bai Xi put her mask back in place and replied, “Enter.” She disliked bathing with an attendant, so little Qiu Qiu remained outside.

“Little Qiu Qiu, you said that older brother has come to pick me up?” Her older brother had said that he wanted to take her somewhere.

“On this day every year, the young master will take the young miss out to Fo Yin4 Temple on Heng Mountain. Does young miss not remember?” Mu Qiu deftly assisted Bai Xi with her dress and make-up.

“Fo Yin Temple?”

“Yes. Fo Yin Temple is the national temple of Xi Yue. All the people at the temple are skilled masters. One cannot enter Fo Yin Temple without a decree from the emperor, otherwise unauthorised persons are killed by the masters guarding the temple.” Mu Qiu explained absently.

Bai Xi was lost in thought. Since the average person could not enter, how did her older brother bring her there every year? Was there something she had to go there for?

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“Because old master and the owner of Fo Yin Temple have a deep friendship, young master and young miss do not need a decree from the emperor to visit Fo Yin Temple,” Mu Qiu continued.

“Little Qiu Qiu, do you know what my older brother took me there to do?”

Mu Qiu shook her head. “Every year, only young master and young miss would go. How would this servant know? Young miss has never mentioned it to this servant.”

Bai Xi sighed. It appeared that she would only find out when she went there.

Today Mu Qiu prepared a purple dress for her to wear, which Bai Xi was indifferent about. Her older brother showed up in a stark black robe, an unusual sight, since his clothes usually didn’t even match. His expression was fairly severe, which was also rare. This made her all the more curious about the purpose of visiting Fo Yin Temple.

“Xi’r, are you feeling well?” Upon catching sight of Bai Xi’s pensive face, Bai Yu Jie’s serious expression dissipated, leaving behind one of worry.

“It’s nothing. I’m fine.” In that split second, it was as if she had seen her older brother from modern times. In all honesty, compared to her older brother a thousand miles away, she preferred this gentle, caring older brother.

“If it’s nothing, then it’s fine. If you feel unwell, you must let your older brother know, okay?”

“Mm.” Bai Xi nodded.

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After four hours, their carriage arrived at Heng Mountain, but they were prevented from disembarking due to a commotion outside.

“Is what you said all true? His Excellency, the Ice Lord has really come to Fo Yin Temple?”

“Have you really not seen all these rich young misses gather here, just for the sake of meeting His Excellency, the Ice Lord?”

“That’s good to hear. I can finally see the legendary Ice Lord.”

“Yeah, I also get to see His Excellency, the Ice Lord.”

“Me too.”

Within the carriage, Bai Yu Jie frowned. Bai Xi lifted the curtains to look at the crowd of people outside. It seemed Feng Ming, or His Excellency, the Ice Lord, was incredibly popular. These people were apparently willing to stand in the sun just to have a chance to see the legendary Ice Lord. Was this Feng Ming really that famous, or were these people just too stupid?

“Hey, isn’t that the Bai residence’s carriage? Did people from the Bai residence also come to Fo Yin Temple?!” someone in the crowd exclaimed upon noticing their carriage.

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“Is it Young General Bai?”

“Wah, if Young General Bai is really at Fo Yin Temple, then the news that His Excellency, the Ice Lord is here must also be true.”

“Hey, why are you saying something like this?”

1.(首飾) – this term was initially referring to the head ornaments that Chinese woman wore back in the day, but now it is used for jewellery. Anyway, here are a couple of examples of head ornaments, just in case.

2.(銅鏡) – they didn’t have very good mirrors back in the day, and were stuck with this bronze mirror.

3. She is devastatingly beautiful.

4.(佛音) I think this means Buddhist, but I’m not too sure. So, I’ve left it as Fo Yin.

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