Chapter 12: Prepare Four Virgin Boys For Me
This was a sunny room, full of sunshine.
The furnishings in the room were simple and elegant with a splendid four-leaf screen embroidered on both sides with all kinds of peonies: coral red with purple like rosy clouds, pink and white like a delicate boy’s face, peach yellow with golden splendor, and a drunken woman with purple elegance.
Qin Jiu’s slender fingers slid slowly along the screen of the peony. The flowers were so vivid that there seemed to be a fragrance coming out of the silk.
There was a pearwood-carved bed in the room with a big bookshelf at the bed head and all kinds of books on it. There was a rosewood desk in front of the bookshelf, with pen and ink on it, and a fine porcelain vase with a drawing of a beautiful woman fluttering like a butterfly. There were no flowers but instead peacock feathers in the vase. The feathers had lost their luster for years, but none of them were broken.
In front of the desk was a jade table with a red clay stove, a goose feather fan, a tea tray, tea washer, water bottle, teapot, bamboo chopsticks, tea towel, and an open book.
On the east side towards the bed end there was a dresser, an emerald-green gold jade head pin lying on top of it.
Qin Jiu slowly walked to the desk, reached out, and picked up the open book. Her fingers gently stroked along the pages, her eyes reading across the lines of words.
When she finished reading, she looked up at Mu Yufei.
It was noon time; the golden sunlight poured through the carved window lattice, shining brightly on Mu Yufei’s face. He seemed calm, but there was vague impatience on his face. He seemingly casually took the book from Qin Jiu’s hands and asked again with a smile, “Who are you?”
“I am Qin Jiu, leader of the Reed Sect in the Heaven Sect, and now I am the leader of the embroidery workshop.” Qin Jiu’s eyes flicked over to the book in his hand, “You have hidden the calligraphy of a criminal here. Aren’t you afraid someone will know?”
Mu Yufei closed his eyes and then opened his eyes to Qin Jiu. He clenched the book in his hand and said with a smile, “Even if she was a criminal, you can’t erase her poetic talent. I admire her talent and I am not afraid.”
Qin Jiu raised her eyebrows, “Aren’t you afraid of being punished for this?”
Mu Yufei smiled, “I heard that your division still kept her unique technique of twilling hollow brocade, why don’t you stop using that? Aren’t you afraid of condemnation from the Emperor?”
With a sigh, Qin Jiu sat down beside the bed and whispered, “Xuanli, why did you do that?”
Mu Yufei was putting the book in the drawer; he felt like he was struck by lightning after he heard Qin Jiu’s words.
She called him Xuanli.
Xuanli was his nickname. There was only one person who called him this.
His fingers froze, his body froze, and he doubted what he had heard. He slowly turned and looked back at the woman sitting beside the bed.
The palace dress drew the outline of her sylphlike figure; her wide sleeve fell like a cloud to the ground. The bright-red fur around her shoulders made her look lovely and luxurious.
That person, she would never wear such bright clothes.
She had a pair of phoenix eyes, soft and charming, but when you took a closer look, there were an endless amount of emotions behind those eyes.
But that person didn’t have such eyes, her eyes were always clear and bright.
“You… What did you call me?” he asked in a quavering voice.
“Xuanli, it’s me!” Qin Jiu looked at him with a smile, “The bamboo stick in your hand is the skeleton of the six-sided bamboo lamp I made. I made this with the old bamboo you got for me in Jiuman Mountain. Have you forgotten? You said the aged bamboo is the strongest frame for the lantern.”
The book in Mu Yufei’s hand fell to the ground.
“This room looks just as I left it except for one change. There was a white peony in the vase when I left. I like peacock feathers in this vase, but you thought it was ugly, and would change it to a white peony every time. You said that only the white peony could match me. I did not expect that after I left, you would preserve the peacock feather so well.”
Mu’s hands began to shake uncontrollably, and his dimmed eyes regained their luster.
“This was the golden jade head pin you gave me, you said that I always wore a white jade pin and that it was too plain.”
“Xuanli, I’m back.” Qin Jiu said word by word.
“My Lord, is it really you?” Mu Yufei suddenly turned around, stretched out a hand to the table, and slowly closed his eyes.
His shoulders hunched and water drops fell on the table. After a while, he turned back and looked at Qin Jiu with his watery eyes.
He took the stick and rubbed the pattern on it with a smile, “When I saw the pattern carved on the stick, I knew you were back. No one in the world but you could carve such a pattern. But I did not expect that you totally changed.”
Qin Jiu stroked a lock of hair from her forehead and said with a smile, “Oh, am I more beautiful than before?”
Mu Yufei looked at her face and felt a sharp pain in his heart. He knew that she must have suffered inhumane pain for the change. But she was smiling so he couldn’t cry; he looked at her for a long time before finally seriously saying: “Like you now, you are more, uh, evil than before.”
Qin Jiu had no comment.
“I got your letter two years ago and have been awaiting your return. However, I didn’t expect that you would return with the identity of the Heaven Sect. Why did you want such an identity?” Mu Yufei asked.
“It is this identity that will allow me to move quickly to the center of power without attracting suspicion. Xuanli, I know you hate the Heaven Sect, but you can’t be too obvious. Was it your idea to drive my people out today?” Qin Jiu asked quietly.
Mu Yufei shook his head, “It was my steward Duyue.”
“You have to discipline him.” Qin Jiu said slowly as she looked around the room, “Don’t leave the room any longer.”
Mu Yufei was shocked but he felt the screen in the room and nodded: “I will burn all the furnishings here and replace them with new ones. Of course, Lord needs a place to stay if you come over occasionally.”
Qin Jiu nodded, “Remember to burn that book, too.”
Mu Yufei wanted to keep the book secretly; he didn’t expect Qin Jiu to read his mind.
“But I won’t come here often. It’s best to avoid letting people know that I know you. Of my servants, only Loquat and Durian are still trustworthy. If something happens, I will send the two of them to contact you.”
“Is there anything I can do for you now?” Mu Yufei asked.
Qin Jiu hooked her lips and said with a faint smile, “At this moment, I do need you to do something for me.”
“What is it? I will try my best to get it done.”
Qin Jiu touched the wounds on her body. Although Lychee had bandaged her again on the way here, she still felt very painful.
“I want you to find me four men, seventeen or eighteen years old, virgin.” Qin Jiu said slowly.