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233 The Artist Proposes a Game

    As Yujia walked to the kitchens, Zixu followed behind her. She saw Lili first when she stepped in the kitchen, and she made sure to introduce Lili to Zixu. Zixu, as always, was his polite self, knowing all the right words to say at all the right times.

    And then, Yujia saw Chef Hong.

    The middle-aged woman, who was carrying a basket of vegetables into the room, saw Yujia at the same time, immediately declaring, "Girlie, who that next to you? Your man?"

    Yujia flashed a look at Zixu, then stared back at Chef Hong. She let out a single laugh, saying, "Ah, no. That's my... senior brother, Yu Zixu. Senior Brother Zixu, this is Chef Hong."

    Zixu nodded and bowed courteously, greeting, "So, this is the great Chef Hong. I have heard great things about your cooking before."

    "Really?" Chef Hong's eyes lit up in a delighted manner. "From who?"

    "From Senior Brother Yunhe, and of course, Junior Sister Yujia. She raves, in particular, about a certain hangover soup you make?" he replied simply.

    Chef Hong narrowed her eyes at Yujia. "This girlie is the type to compliment me so much in front of other people?"

    Zixu kept his plain smile. "Certainly."

    Yujia chimed in, "Chef Hong, since we're on the topic of hangover soup, I totally do not have a hangover or anything, but I've been really craving the taste of your soup. If you have the supplies on hand, and if it's not too much, could you please make me a bowl? Oh, and a bowl for Senior Brother too, since he doesn't believe how good the soup actually is."

    Chef Hong laughed, waving her hand in the air. "You know that when cooking for a person like your master, I always have the ingredients for hangover soup on hand. If you want some soup, then I'll make some. Easy."

    "Then, I can only graciously thank the great chef." Yujia grinned.

    While Chef Hong got to work, Yujia and Zixu took a seat in the back of the kitchen. They passed some time with some basic chit chat, but soon enough they became bored.

    Yujia glanced around the kitchen, spotting one shelf that had some old paper and ink on it. She looked back at Zixu, who had just finished explaining a poem Yujia found the other day and had been puzzled about.

    She then thought about a simple game she played the other day with a certain someone named Bo Zhizhong, in which she had won. Back then, she drew some cat whiskers on Zhizhong's face as his punishment for losing and her prize for winning.

    Staring at Zixu with a careful gaze, Yujia imagined how he would look with some strokes of ink across the sides of his face. She couldn't stop a giggle from escaping her at the idea of it.

    Zixu blinked. "Hm? What's funny?"

    "Well..." Yujia immediately wiped away her smile, straightening herself and taking on a serious tone. "If we have nothing to do, how about we play a little game?"

    She had a great game and a great idea.

    ...

    Meanwhile, on the other side of Lingxin, Fu Yushang, the crown prince of the empire, stared at the person who was standing right in front of him right now, Ye Yunhe.

    "What are you doing here?" Yunhe asked, eyebrows knit and an unamused expression crossing his face. "And how did you even get into Lingxin?"

    Yushang grinned brightly. "Been a while since you've seen me, haven't you? Did you miss me? Did you forget about my existence? And did you forget that a certain someone," he coughed, "ahem, me," he coughed again, "is a certain crown prince, and has some excellent abilities to get into places that are closed off to the average person?"

    Yunhe continued looking unamused as usual, sighing. "What do you want today?"

    "Aw come on, don't look like you're so miserable to see me." Yushang gestured at Yunhe's expression with a nod, "I could have you flogged for that."

    "Go ahead. Why don't you?" Yunhe didn't seem like he particularly cared. He turned around, then started heading in the opposite direction.

    Yushang hastily followed, explaining, "Well, because I'm in an excellent mood today! And I came to visit the lovely senior brother of my wonderful business partner-"

    At this, Yunhe spun around. "So, when do you plan on telling her your true identity?"

    "You think I should?" Yushang placed his hand at his chin. "I do admit that I'm growing a bit attached to the entire 'Bo Zhizhong' identity. It's quite easy to go around town like this, you know?"

    Yunhe's lips flattened into a thin line. "I don't think she'll be particularly pleased with the idea that you've been hiding these things from her all along."

    "You make it sound like I'm lying to her all the time," Yushang defended himself, "which I'm not. I'm an open book. This is the only thing that I'm keeping from her, and I have my reasons."

    "Is that so? This is the only thing you've kept from her? Are you sure?" Yunhe's brows jumped off.

    "Yes, of course."

    Yunhe didn't seem all too convinced by this, but Yushang thought that this senior brother of Yujia was just too much of a worrier and overthinker. What else could he possibly be hiding from her besides the fact that he was a crown prince? Yushang told her almost everything.

    Seeing how Yushang wasn't spouting any more words, Yunhe then blurted out, "I know you're not here to visit me. That's nonsense. You came to see her, didn't you?"

    "Why yes, I did." Yushang grinned. "You're not as dense as you seem, are you? So tell me, where can I find her?"

    Yunhe turned and continued walking fast again. "I actually don't know," he answered while he walked.

    Yushang scurried to follow. "Aw come on, you have to know. How could you not?"

    "I really don't." The two of them stopped at the entrance of a large building, which Yunhe seemed like he wanted to enter. "She went off this morning after breakfast, and I haven't seen her since." He faced Yushang, then gestured to the building doors. "I have to go find some documents in Lingxin's private library. Only disciples can enter, and I'm afraid that even an almighty crown prince like yourself cannot get in. So, if you would excuse me, honorable crown prince," he bowed deeply, "I'll be going now."

    With that being said, Yunhe went in and closed the doors behind him.

    Yushang stared at the closed doors, a few thoughts crossing his mind.

    Since the last time that he met Yunhe, the attitude of this other one seemed to change a lot. He seemed to be less afraid of Yushang's power, compared to when Yushang first revealed who he was to Yunhe.

    This made sense, though. After all, Yunhe was an important noble's son and the direct disciple of Yushang's father's master. Yushang, though a crown prince, couldn't actually get Yunhe in too much trouble, especially when he was under the disguise and not interacting with Ye Yunhe in public.

    Yushang pondered for a moment the possibility of Noble Ye exposing his identity to Yujia, but he decided that despite Yunhe's attitude, he wouldn't go as far to tell Yujia the truth about who Yushang was. He wouldn't want any troubles to befall on his family in court.

    Still, on the safe side, Yushang decided that he would have to send some fancy gifts to Yunhe to buy his way into having Yunhe's loyalty. It was better to be safe than sorry.

    Yushang looked at the doors again, recalling the words Ye Yunhe told him just a moment ago.

    Only disciples could go into the private library?

    It seemed like there were a lot of restrictions to non-disciples that even a crown prince couldn't cross.

    That seemed to be an issue, but Yushang figured that it was an issue that was easy to solve. If only disciples could enter the library, then he would just go and become a disciple! He didn't think that any of Lingxin's masters would dare to reject a disciple like him.

    From just a thought, there were numerous benefits to becoming a disciple. He could enter and leave Lingxin as he pleased, and he could also see his business partner for business related things as he pleased, right?

    Thus, Yushang discovered a new goal he didn't know he had before: becoming a disciple of Lingxin Academy.

    But for now- he needed to find Yujia. He actually had some things involving their shop that he wanted to discuss with her, and it wasn't that he was just finding her for fun.

    Though, with Ye Yunhe now gone, behind some doors that Yushang couldn't cross, how was he supposed to find his business partner? She could even be outside of Lingxin, for all he knew.

    Because of this, Yushang decided to do some waiting.
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