Chapter 84: Cellar, An Immense Hole
Faced with her thoughts travelling down an unacceptable path, Bai Xiangxiu decided to take action: with a loud thwack, she slapped her own face. Xiao Shi jumped in fright as the pearl hairpin nearly flew out of her hands.
She was flustered at the sight of her mistress’ reddened face in the mirror. “Mistress Xiu, why did you hit your own face?”
Bai Xiangxiu rubbed her cheek, saying, “No reason. I just felt a little itchy, that’s all.”
In reality, she was keeping herself composed. She needed to adhere to her original intentions, and not let herself be seduced by the male lead. That Long Heng fellow from yesterday had really been too attractive. Even though she had not dared to gaze too closely at him, the sight of those sturdy, robust muscles and firm chest of his had still been burned into her retinas.
One hardly ever saw such a “man among men” like that these days. Usually, the place was chock full of low-quality fakes, with hardly anyone that was easy on the eyes. She’d been on a few blind dates before, or dated some fellows who were still in university. However, she’d found herself feeling too awkward around them, especially since their bodies were so slender that their waists were narrower than hers. She didn’t think she’d ever feel secure if she had to spend her life with some weak man like that.
But there was something remarkable about Long Heng. He had the kind of build that seemed thin while he was wearing clothes, but looked much more muscular when disrobed. Even just looking at his back alone was already enough to make her feel extremely nervous.
That was why she’d slapped herself out of it; she was too embarrassed by what she’d been thinking about just now.
Xiao Shi combed her hair and washed up, while Bai Xiangxiu sat there after eating breakfast, waiting for Long Heng to come find her. Just then, a maid entered the room. She said that the orchids would be thrown away, yet asked for her to choose a few of them to bring back.
It was only natural for people to pick out their own plants. So Bai Xiangxiu left for the greenhouse she’d visited earlier along with Xiao Shi. Because the servants couldn’t leave the orchids in their previous home without harming the people in the room, and they would freeze to death if placed elsewhere, the servants had just left them in there.
The greenhouse was quite large, and the airflow was reasonable enough. Therefore, no one would be poisoned from the toxic glycosides in the tulips. However, Xiao Shi was worried, and didn’t really want to go in.
“You stay outside then,” Bai Xiangxiu said. “I’ll go in myself. It’ll be fine.” Bai Xiangxiu could see how scared Xiao Shi was at the prospect of entering the greenhouse, so she planned to leave her timid maid to wait outside for her return.
“It won’t be fine! What if something happens to Mistress Xiu? What would I do then? I should be the one to enter and pick!”
Bai Xiangxiu could not help but smile as she saw Xiao Shi put on a brave face. She gently pinched her maid’s nose before saying, “What do you know about picking them? I’ll go. It’ll be fine as long as there aren’t many people present and I have cloth covering my face. Besides, some of the plants have been thrown away already. It’s not a patch of flowers anymore.”
“Then at least let me accompany you in.” Even though Xiao Shi was scared, she wanted to stay by her mistress’ side, and share whatever her fate might be.
She still seemed so young to Bai Xiangxiu, who pinched her on the face this time. “You just wait here. We can’t have too many people go in, or else we’d all be poisoned.”
Xiao Shi accepted this last statement. She hesitated for a moment longer before finally deciding to remain outside.
Bai Xiangxiu entered the greenhouse, accompanied only by a lone page. The boy was in charge of transporting the plants, as well as moving away whatever flower pot she chose. However, he had to make sure the pot maintained its proper heat. At least fifteen minutes were required for a pot to be moved to the nearest warm room from here.
Since the airflow in the greenhouse was fine, Bai Xiangxiu didn’t feel stifled. Moreover, there were also some other plants here which helped to mitigate the toxicity level in the air.
Quite out of the blue, one of the greenhouse pillars suddenly snapped and fell over with a crash. The page, distracted as he was by moving the flowers, didn’t even notice until he was slammed into the ground.
Bai Xiangxiu jumped in shock. She wanted to go over to check on his condition, but for some reason, her foot suddenly stepped into empty air, and she too began to tumble down below.
“Bai Xiangxiu!” She heard someone yell in an anxious voice. At the same time, something seemed to grab onto her. However, before she could count herself too fortunate, she heard the boom of another massive rumble as the whole world around her seemed to collapse.
After that, she slipped into unconsciousness; by the time she woke up, she wasn’t sure how much time had passed. What happened? She thought to herself. Why is there so much dust?
Bai Xiangxiu coughed with great difficulty. There seemed to be something in her eyes, and she could hardly see from her tears. She felt a hand gently pass along her back. “Are you better now?”
“Yes, it’s me.”
“What happened?” She coughed a few times, wanting to rub her eyes.
She felt Song Jiaoyue shove a handkerchief into her hands. “Wipe your eyes, gently. You must have gotten dust in them.”
“Many thanks.” Bai Xiangxiu carefully dabbed her eyes with the handkerchief, and indeed felt a little better. Although there was still a little bit of pain, at least she could see now. Both of them appeared to have fallen into a deep pit. Very deep, and she…
Bai Xiangxiu finally realized that something was wrong. She seemed to be sitting on top of someone right now. No wonder she had not been injured; someone had actually been a meat cushion for her fall. She hurriedly stood up, causing her to feel great pain all over.
“Move slowly.” Song Jiaoyue said as he helped her up. “When you fell, you cut your waist.”
“Waist? No wonder it hurts a little.” She reached down to touch her waist, and sensed blood on her hand. She felt woozy. Had she been injured?
“No need to worry. It’s just a scratch. It shouldn’t be anything serious.” Song Jiaoyue supported her. Practiced as he was in martial arts, he had suffered no injuries. However, when they had fallen just now, he had not been able to guard her completely. As a result, a nail had grazed her waist.
So long as Bai Xiangxiu’s clothes were covering her injury, he had no way to tell how serious it was, but there hadn’t been much bleeding, so it shouldn’t be anything too threatening. Even so, he felt guilt within his heart. He was glad that he had chosen that moment to come see her, but he still chided himself for not being able to protect her as well as he ought have.
Bai Xiangxiu collected herself, before noticing that she was completely covered in soot and dust. Song Jiaoyue had fared no better in that regard. And she soon discovered that the person she had been sitting on top of just now was actually that page who had been knocked out earlier. She couldn’t help but jump in shock at the sight. “He’s fine, right?”
“Just unconscious. He’ll be alright.” Song Jiaoyue removed his scarf, though he suspected that it wasn’t clean enough. After shaking it off for a bit, he said to Bai Xiangxiu, “Wrap this around your waist.”
Bai Xiangxiu nodded, reaching out to take it. However, with a muffled groan, she discovered that her arm was in rather a lot of pain.
“Your hand…” Song Jiaoyue grabbed her hand, not giving a damn about formalities, only to discover that her jade-like hand had already swelled up to the size of a bun.
“It must have been injured when you fell,” he said. “Perhaps you used your hand to support yourself against the ground. Forgive my impertinence, but may I help you to wrap the scarf around your waist?” He was worried that the injury on her waist might be contaminated by the dust. Covering it with his scarf was the only method he had available to protect her.
“It’s fine. And, thank you.” Bai Xiangxiu raised her arms, indicating for him to help her wrap it around the wound at her waist.
Song Jiaoyue was taken aback as his heart trembled; he never thought that she would be so bold. However, he still wrapped his scarf around her waist, before binding his handkerchief about her wrist. That way, at least she would not be hurt more than once.
After he secured the cloth around her waist and wrist, Song Jiaoyue was covered in sweat. The aroma of her body was just too fragrant, causing him to having some impure thoughts. This is not good. He definitely had to keep his distance. At first he’d thought that she would break out in tears after realizing what had happened. Or at the very least, that she would be a little more awkward, wanting to avoid suspicion of any improper relations. But she was acting much calmer than he would have expected.
“So, how do we get back up?” she said. “What is this place?” Song Jiaoyue was dumbstruck for a moment. He finally understood now why she had run over and taken that blade for him. She was not anywhere near as soft as her appearance would have suggested. She was strong. Extremely strong.