Chapter 35

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written by Miniorchid
consulting by Juls
edited by Chimera

Being the 2nd Prince of the West Sea and the Commander of his own army, very few people made Die Feng nervous – Shifu being one of the exceptions. The God of War had a commanding presence and an imposing aura. He was so intimidating that nobody dared to interrupt him when he spoke. But for Die Feng, it had always been his silences that were the most frightening. Now, Shifu had been silent for quite some time, which caused Die Feng to become more and more uneasy. Looking down to the floor as he bowed, feeling the God of War's eyes on him, he could hardly keep himself from fidgeting.

He had already informed Shifu of the current situation with 16th and the Ghost Princess. Assassins were targeting the royal blood of the Ghost tribe and would have likely succeeded in killing the Ghost Princess and her child if not for 16th's tenacity. As Die Feng had predicted, Shifu had no issue with the Ghost Princess residing at Kunlun temporarily, given the urgency of the situation, her wounds, and the young child who was with her. Truth was, the Ghost Princess was an important asset in this war to come and it seemed strategically beneficial not to turn her away, but to keep her close and investigate the situation.

However, there was another decision to be made. Die Feng had expected it to be a quick one, and he wanted to convey the message to the uninvited guest outside Kunlun Hall as soon as possible. But Shifu drank his tea, his face unmoving, and Die Feng waited on tenterhooks.

When it seemed like his Master had forgotten about the question entirely, Die Feng ventured a cautious "Shifu...?"

"She may stay," the Master of Kunlun Mountains finally answered as he placed his teacup down.

Die Feng could not believe his ears. "Pardon?"

*****

Earlier in the day...

Luckily, there was no sign of assassins tailing them on their way back to Kunlun. 16th's strength lasted exactly until their arrival at the gate, where he collapsed. Anticipating something like this might happen, Die Feng had already alerted his juniors to await their return at the foot of the mountain and six disciples rushed towards the party as soon as they arrived.

"Senior! How is 16th...?" they gathered around, worried and anxious to know what had happened. 6th and 10th bent down and lifted 16th up, each taking one of his arms over their shoulders to carry him.

"He's heavily injured, take him to his room," said Die Feng. "Where is 2nd?"

"2nd senior is busy making the elixir for 16th as instructed, it will be done soon," 4th explained.

Die Feng looked at the Ghost Princess and the child in her arms, then turned back to his junior. "4th, prepare 9th's old room for the Ghost Princess and her child," he ordered.

"Yes, senior."

Die Feng turned to the Ghost Princess, "Princess, please excuse me, I have to report to the God of War, so I will not be able to help you settle in. 4th will take care of your needs."

"Thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for saving us. I didn't have the opportunity to express my gratitude earlier," she replied.

"As Kunlun Disciples it is our duty to assist those in need. However, it is 16th who had the honor of protecting you and the child," he bowed to her and turned to 4th. "4th, make sure the Princess and the child have whatever they may need. Provide food and medical supplies to the Princess's room when you settle her in."

"Leave it to me, Senior," 4th bowed.

Die Feng watched everyone leave as instructed. Then he reluctantly turned to the real problem at hand. The Demon Princess, back to her chirpy self, had followed them home, insisting she had to ensure their safe return in case of more assassins. Now that they were at the gates, she was visibly excited while Die Feng was dreading the next scene. He was really grateful for all her help; indeed she had saved their lives in the nick of time. He never liked being rude and now the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her feelings. Yet how could he let her inside Kunlun's halls when their tribes were on the verge of war? Duty came first, always, without question. He cleared his throat.

"Princess..."

"Why are we still standing around? I want you to show me the waterfalls, they look magnificent!" She grabbed his arm, and pointed at the waterfalls above.

He gently disentangled himself. "Princess, thank you for your assistance earlier in the mortal realm. It is unlikely the assassins will appear here because of Kunlun's power suppression. Your power will also be suppressed if you reside here, so it is wiser if you return to your realm."

At his distant demeanor, confusion flitted across her face for an instance before she pouted. "But the Ghost Princess is staying; her powers are similar to mine."

"That is correct, but she is injured, has a child with her, and is being targeted by unknown assassins. Also, she is a guest of 16th's," he explained.

"Then I can be your guest." She smiled at her own suggestion.

"My guest?" he repeated.

She beamed innocently, "Yes! I won't cause any problems for you at Kunlun."

He looked at her with disbelief. How could her staying at Kunlun not cause problems under current circumstances? She could not be completely oblivious of the fact that the master of this mountain and her brother were on the brink of going to war with each other, could she? They had no idea how much she knew or where her allegiance lay. Her staying here would be unwise on so many levels. But how did one broach such a subject with someone one was in debt to?

"Why do you hesitate? I led you to your 16th junior and his princess, didn't I? And as I recall, I saved everyone, including you."

"Princess, I don't think it is wise, Kunlun is not accustomed to hosting female guests." This sounded like a feeble excuse even to his ears.

She laughed, "But the High Demon Goddess is residing here as well! We are acquainted! She can be my chaperone if you prefer."

Shimu as a chaperone? Die Feng couldn't think of anything less appropriate. This whole situation made his head swim. He had hoped it wouldn't come to this but now it seemed he had no choice. He sighed, "Princess, I don't have the authority to decide in this matter. Let me ask Shifu's permission."

Asking Shifu was the last resort; he was quite certain Shifu would never let her reside at Kunlun. He just hoped that when the moment came, Shifu would not look too grim and the Princess not too disappointed. She, however, was not fazed by the suggestion. "Your Shifu? The God of War? I saw him at the Festival and though he looks very scary, I'm sure he'll let me stay, seeing that I saved his disciples. Go, ask – and then let me see the waterfalls."

Die Feng stared at her violet and brown eyes glimmering with anticipation and wondered if there would ever be a day on which he could win against the Demon Princess.

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