108 Caring Stepmother
The Heavenly Door competition ended not long ago – just in time for the first snow of Nine Jade Mountain.
Snow this year was the heaviest among these last few years. It was so heavy that the route up the hill was blocked.
Grinning from ear to ear, Ah Sheng happily went out to remove snow from the main door. Suddenly, he saw a huge group walking toward him from afar.
He scanned his surroundings before scrambling back into the house.
“Why are you in such a hurry?” Hui Niang, who’s cleaning up the house, asked.
“There’s a lot of people outside,” Ah Sheng replied.
“A lot of people?”
Just as Ah Sheng was about to answer, knocking could be heard from the courtyard door.
“Hello, does Courtyard Leader Liu live here?”
Both of them turned toward the door. A lady about thirty years old was standing there with a thin smile on her face. She was dressed fancifully and she looked neat, but her actions were relatively reserved.
Behind her stood girls and boys, more than ten each – it was indeed a lot of people.
Hui Niang stepped forward to address her, “He does stay here, Auntie. What do you…?”
The woman bowed elegantly to Hui Niang, “Stewardess of Jasper Jade Palace. Last name Tao – most people call me Aunt Tao.”
“Jasper Jade Palace?” Hui Niang’s face dimmed.
Jasper Jade Palace, where the sect leaders
lived. Since Lu Qingyi’s death, Hui Niang hated the place, even though she
might not have ever said anything. That's where the enemies lived.
However, Stewardess Tao acted as if she didn’t notice Hui Niang’s face change. She continued, “This sister here must be Hui Niang, right? Madame told me about your hard work these years in taking good care of the Miss. Mister and Madame will keep your hard work in their hearts.”
Hui Niang couldn’t process what Stewardess Tao said, so she stared at her blankly.
“Aunt Hui,” a voice brought her back to reality.
Stewardess Tao turned back.
A young lady in white was staring at her. She had fair skin and dark hair, but her eyes were cold, and she looked like a statue from afar.
Stewardess Tao was taken aback by her. That woman from Dongyue looked so weak, so why does her daughter look otherwise?
Hui Niang turned back to see Lu Mingshu standing in the corridor. She hurried over, “Miss, why are you out here? It’s so cold.”
“I’m okay,” Lu Mingshu smiled as she shook her head to indicate nothing was wrong.
“Greetings to Miss from Maid Tao.”
Lu Mingshu scanned her from head to toe in silence.
Stewardess Tao’s smile froze in nervousness as she was being looked over.
“Miss, Madame has sent Maid Tao here to serve you and provide you with materials to get through the winter.”
“I have all I need here, so it’s okay; you may leave,” Lu Mingshu replied in monotone.
“Miss!” Seeing that Lu Mingshu had turned around and was about to leave, Stewardess Tao stopped her in hurry, “Take it as being filial to Courtyard Leader Liu! It’s freezing here at the Nine Jade Mountain and, without martial ability, it will be tough on him throughout the winter.”
Lu Mingshu stopped in her tracks.
Stewardess Tao immediately went forward to persuade her, “Madame knows that you are a filial child. She even sent him some winter clothes!”
After a long pause, Lu Mingshu nodded, “Thank you for the trouble.”
Seeing that Lu Mingshu had agreed, Stewardess Tao heaved a sigh of relief, “What are you all waiting for? Bring them in!” She beckoned the group standing outside.
One by one, they carried huge packages into the tiny courtyard of Lu Mingshu’s house like ants. Within no time, everything was in place.
Fresh ingredients, top-notch charcoal, tonics, thick beddings, winter clothes made out of wool…. Everything in Lu Mingshu’s house had been replaced by something better. Within no time, the originally simple house had become elegant.
Stewardess Tao then passed a message to Lu Mingshu, “Madame says that if you need anything, feel free to inform the Jasper Jade Palace. Since you are currently unwell, these two servant girls will serve you and cater to your needs.”
Just as Stewardess Tao was about to beckon the servant girl to greet Lu Mingshu, Lu Mingshu waved her hand, “Leave the things, but not them.”
Stewardess Tao opened her mouth to say something, but Lu Mingshu stopped her, “I’m not interested in whatever you’re going to say. Keep the act to yourself. It’s no fun when it’s all an act.”
Stewardess Tao bit her lips. She swallowed back her words and, after much hesitation, she decided to add something on, “If Maid Tao fails to finish the task given, Madame may punish me….”
“What does that have to do with me?” Lu Mingshu snapped.
“Get lost after you’re done. It has always been quiet in Green Jade Valley, and you’re creating noise pollution.”
Stewardess Tao suppressed her urge to comment even further. She bowed to Lu Mingshu, “Maid Tao will excuse herself now.”
Lu Mingshu didn’t bother to reply. The group slowly left with the empty boxes.
When they had all left, Hui Niang went up to Lu Mingshu, “Miss, what are they…?” Her voice was filled with worry.
Lu Mingshu took a package of tonics and handed it over to Hui Niang. “Don’t worry, just use this all. Nothing will happen.” she laughed sarcastically. “I have enough cabbages anyway. Aunt Hui, make something good for lunch, okay?”
Hui Niang smiled upon hearing that, “Sure.”
Lu Mingshu then stood up and walked toward the master bedroom. She knocked on the door softly, “Master?”
“Come in,” Liu Jizhen’s voice could be heard.
She walked in to see him engrossed in calligraphy.
Lu Mingshu walked over to the stove. She fanned the charcoal to ignite the fire.
“Have they left?”
“Yeah,” she sat down in front of him. “Master, I’ve accepted the items.”
Liu Jizhen remained focused on his calligraphy, “As long as you know what you’re doing.”
Silence engulfed the room for a few seconds before Lu Mingshu broke it, “Even though I do not know what Zhou Miaoru has in mind, I believe that, as long as I have my sword, there's nothing to be afraid of.”
Liu Jizhen put down his brush and proceeded to warm his hand at the stove, “Your stepmother’s hobby is to scheme against people. Without much experience, you would get caught by her bait, but with cultivation and growth, you won’t get caught.
“Yeah,” Lu Mingshu nodded in agreement. “The most important thing now is to recover. The rest can wait.”
Liu Jizhen smiled contently, “Yes.”
Lu Mingshu once again broke the silence that had engulfed the room, “Master, what do you think she’s scheming? Sending me a servant who calls me Miss? What does acknowledging me bring? If she wants to control me using filial piety, that sadly won’t work on me; I’m not a simpleton.”
Martial arts didn’t put as much focus on ethics; things worked mostly on logic. If Lu Mingshu disrespected Fu Shangqing then she would be at fault, but for Zhou Miaoru – the second wife who was suspected of being accountable for the first wife’s death – it was reasonable for Lu Mingshu to disregard her.
Liu Jizhen shook his head, “I know her well; she’s not that dumb. She might not be highly involved in martial arts, but her father was the sect leader and now her husband is the sect leader; she would definitely be farsighted. All her actions might be for show.”
“For show? How is that useful?” Lu Mingshu was confused. How would making others see her as a caring stepmother do anything?
“That… well, I can’t tell. But with your mindset, it’s nothing important. What matters is that you have the ability. She can’t do anything to you if you are powerful enough.”