In the Nine Heavens, Hong Bao stumbled out of the scribe’s palace in a daze. She didn’t know what to think let alone do. Would Shun Tao … really die? Because of her? Because she had told someone about the assignment he had given her? That couldn’t be! She had to do something to prevent this!
Hong Bao went back to her room, without noticing anything around her. Like all the gazes that were following her, for example. All her thoughts circled around the problem at hand. Back in her room, she paced up and down and tried to think of something she could do. She had to help him somehow! After all, this was partly her fault.
First of all, they had to make sure that nobody found out about this! For now, the only people who knew about the assignment were Shun Tao himself, her as his helper and Leng Jin Yu.
So the first thing to do was to go and tell Leng Jin Yu that he definitely couldn’t talk about this with anyone else!
After not even five minutes in her room, Hong Bao hurried to the courtyard of the idle gods. Unfortunately, nothing could be seen of Leng Jin Yu. Hong Bao grew anxious. Why wasn’t he there when she needed him so urgently?!
What to do? What to do? She paced up and down outside the courtyard in the hope that Leng Jin Yu would come back soon. Unfortunately for her, he was still in the God of War’s palace and as long as he didn’t have to he wouldn’t come back so soon. This was his chance to establish a relationship with the God of War. He would be an idiot if he didn’t use this opportunity.
Hong Bao stopped near the entrance, lifted her hand and bit her fingernails. Notifying Leng Jin Yu would have to wait. Then how about after that? What else could she do to make sure that nothing would happen to Shun Tao?
Maybe she could somehow help him to finish his trial fast—
Hong Bao slapped her forehead. Right! She had totally forgotten to tell Shun Tao what she knew about the gods in the courtyard! She didn’t wait for Leng Jin Yu any longer and hurried back to the scribe’s palace instead. Once again she was too preoccupied with her own thoughts to notice that she was observed by quite a few people on the way.
"Fate’s Scribe!" Thankfully, Hong Bao still had enough of her thoughts with her to remember that she couldn’t casually call him by his name if other people might be around.
Shun Tao looked up from Jing He’s scroll of fate and raised his brows when he saw Hong Bao storm in. Hadn’t he been direct enough before?
"I forgot to tell you what I found out!"
"Ah." Shun Tao furled the scroll of fate and put it down. There was nothing he could do anyway. "So, what do you know?"
"You only cared about Zhi Hao and Wen Xia, right?"
Shun Tao nodded. They were the most likely candidates from that patch of young gods. He just didn’t know which one of them was the culprit.
"Wen Xia really did monitor different people each time. I don’t know much about the tasks of the scribes but it seemed like he was watching those mortals entire lives in a short amount of time."
"That doesn’t sound as if it has anything to do with the crown prince." Shun Tao frowned. In that case, it should be the other one. "Then what about Zhi Hao? He should have observed more than one person."
Hong Bao nodded. "There weren’t that many people though. The first one was a woman of about thirty years of age."
Shun Tao narrowed his eyes. Thirty years? That could be Zhong Jing Yi’s mother, Madam Zhong.
"Then there is another woman who is a little younger. Sometimes, they even spent time together."
Shun Tao nodded again. That should be one of the women from the village. Since she was younger than Madam Zhong it could be Madam Shen, Lian Mei, who had lived in the house next to the Zhongs before she married.
"There’s a third woman."
"Did she have a relationship with the other two?"
"Not as far as I know. At least they never appeared together. The same is true for the other two women he observed."
"Two other women?!" Shun Tao’s brows lifted. Where did all those women come from?
"Mn!" Hong Bao nodded. "He observed five women altogether."
"Then … was there anything they had in common? Like … did they appear in the same places? Even if they themselves didn’t meet?" That could very well be the case. In fact, not monitoring Zhong Jing Yi but the people in his surroundings instead was brilliant. If the Heavenly Emperor had someone from the scribe’s palace watch over his son, he wouldn’t needlessly alarm them while still being able to find out everything that happened around the boy. After all, there were a lot of women in Zhong Jing Yi’s village and the surrounding ones. Selecting some in strategic positions would be easy.
"Mn, something like that. It wasn’t exactly the same place but really similar ones. And the things these women did were similar too."
"Oh? They were probably working in the village?"
"No, no. The places they went to were mostly ones with water, like the river or a room in the house with a big bucket." Hong Bao tried hard to remember every detail Leng Jin Yu had told her. "And they mostly did things like washing their hair or —"
"Alright!" Shun Tao lifted a hand to interrupt her. "I don’t need to hear that. I can … imagine what else he was observing there."
"Really?!" Hong Bao was impressed. As expected of the man she fell in love with! He was just so smart!
In regards to Hong Bao’s worshiping gaze, Shun Tao could only smile wryly. Yes, he could vividly imagine why a young idle god was monitoring a bunch of women in the mortal realm.
Shun Tao massaged his temples. How come this whole mission had ended in disaster without yielding any results? Could it be that he had been wrong? Was the culprit not one of the idle gods? But then … who was it?
He sighed. "It seems I’ll have to confess to the Heavenly Emperor without being able to give an explanation."
Hong Bao leaped to her feet. "No! You can’t! What if he really …"
Shun Tao shook his head. "Going and admitting my mistake is at least a bit better than waiting until he finds out himself."
"You can’t. Give me a while. I’ll find a solution!"
"Hong Bao …" Shun Tao wanted to advise against it but Hong Bao had bent over the table and grabbed his hand, squeezing it as if they were incredibly familiar with each other. "Don’t you worry! I’ll find a way, I promise!"
Shun Tao stared at her hands that were clutching his and suppressed a sigh. Ah, why was all this so troublesome? "I can’t wait much longer. At most wait another day. After that, I have to tell His Majesty."
Hong Bao nodded. One day was enough. She would find a way to rescue him in that time. She certainly wouldn’t allow for anything to happen to her one true love!