"It'll be bad if you argue with the fifth prince, Big Sister."
"I know my limits."
Ning Qinghuan started wiping the water on Jun Zishu's face with a handkerchief. Then, she moved on to Jun Zishu's fingers.
Jun Zishu found Ning Qinghuan's attentive actions a little strange. However, as she couldn't figure out what was wrong, she chalked it up to Ning Qinghuan being considerate.
"What if the fifth prince doesn't stand on your side, Big Sister…"
"Then, I can do without a friend like him."
Ning Qinghuan's expression turned cold as she spoke. Then, she held onto Jun Zishu's hand.
Friendship was a strange and wonderful thing. It also heavily relied on fate.
Despite only knowing Jun Zishu for a few months, Ning Qinghuan now felt that her little cousin was more important to her than anyone else.
"I shouldn't have stood so close to her."
Jun Zishu put on a look of guilt, her body trembling slightly.
Jun Zishu's act was so realistic that if Little Fairy hadn't personally witnessed Jun Zishu's previous performance, she would've believed Jun Zishu's current behavior.
"Regardless, I've already tolerated her for long enough. I don't know what I'll end up doing if I have to spend time around her in the future. Although my relationship with her hasn't reached a point where we are mortal enemies, I detest her very much. I can tell that she doesn't like me, either."
Ning Qinghuan snorted. Right now, she and Pei Xiuyun were merely maintaining a peaceful relationship with each other on the surface.
Sometime later, the servant returned with a fresh set of clothes. After Jun Zishu changed her clothes, Ning Qinghuan brought her to bid goodbye to the second princess.
"Leaving so soon? Hasn't your cousin already changed her clothes? You should stay a little longer and leave after it gets dark," the second princess said. She did not wish for a key figure like Ning Qinghuan to leave so soon.
"Please forgive me, Your Highness, but my cousin isn't in good health. She might fall ill after this incident, so it's best if we return soon and let the doctor take a look."
Ning Qinghuan spoke sincerely on the surface but felt frustrated on the inside. She naturally knew that the second princess was trying to keep her here and use her to potentially form connections with the other guests. However, she simply didn't have the patience to do such a thing right now.
"Since that's the case, head back quickly. Also, it seems you're very protective of your little sister, Little Ning."
After receiving the second princess's permission, Ning Qinghuan quickly left the event venue with Jun Zishu.
Ning Qinghuan also couldn't help but feel upset as she walked. She knew that the people attending the event looked down on Jun Zishu's status. In the eyes of these noble ladies, one's bloodline was of utmost importance.
When night arrived at the Ning manor, Ning Qinghuan did not go to bed with Jun Zishu like usual. Instead, she visited her father, General Ning, for a chat and only returned late at night.
The next morning, Ning Qinghuan didn't even greet Jun Zishu before leaving the manor with Shaoyao.
[Host, Host, it seems the mission target is going to seek justice for you.]
Jun Zishu mentally hummed a reply as she leisurely ate her breakfast.
[Do you think your plan will succeed, Host?]
I'm 80% confident. The prince's sweetheart is still a variable.
Jun Zishu took a sip of tea. Now, she could only hope that Pei Xiuyun wouldn't disappoint her.
[Why didn't the mission target take you with her? Wouldn't it be better if you two went together? You can even use the opportunity to continue acting and add oil to the fire.]
I can't help it. My cousin pampers me too much.
Because she knows that some people are bound to say things that will upset me, she decided to settle things herself in advance.
Jun Zishu quite liked this ancient world. This was because everyone belonging to the upper echelons of society more or less knew each other. Hence, everyone should have a clue of what was in each other's minds. Although the children around Ning Qinghuan were still young and their acting was still green, they were youths who had grown up in power. By now, they already knew which side they needed to stand on for their future.
Compared to Ning Qinghuan and her little friends, children of similar ages found in Jun Zishu's homeworld were much more immature. After all, most youths on Earth were unlikely to come into contact with the cruel laws of the adult world at the meager age of 13.
Meanwhile, when Jun Zishu was enjoying her breakfast in the Ning manor, a tense atmosphere filled the room of a certain teahouse.
"Why must you put all the blame on Xiuyun? What does she have to do with this?"
The fifth prince frowned, unable to understand Ning Qinghuan's anger.
"She knows best whether she's at fault or not," Ning Qinghuan said to the fifth prince. Then, she glared at Pei Xiuyun, who stood beside the fifth prince, and continued, "I can tolerate the little schemes you normally use against me, but why must you target my little sister? Do you think my patience is limitless?"
"I really didn't do it, Big Sister Qinghuan. I don't know why you would say such a thing. Why would I ever push Little Sister Wan'er? Also, I have never schemed against you. I would never dare to do that."
Pei Xiuyun's complexion paled as she spoke, tears rolling in her eyes.
"I know my status can't compare against yours, Big Sister Qinghuan, so I have never thought of competing against you. I only wish to follow and get along with you and everyone else. If you dislike me, Big Sister Qinghuan, you can just say so. I promise I'll stop pestering you and trying to get you to like me!
"Big Brother Five, I'm not feeling well, so I'll return for today. You have a good chat with Big Sister Qinghuan. Please don't argue because of me."
After saying so, Pei Xiuyun got up from her seat and tried to leave. However, before she could do so, the fifth prince grabbed onto her hand and stopped her.
In the meantime, Jun Zishu was enjoying the live broadcast Little Fairy was showing her.
Pei Xiuyun's actions were a standard for most of the "white lotuses". Her act basically involved blaming herself to earn sympathy points and win the moral high ground.
People would often sympathize with the weak, even if it appeared to be a foolish and wrong move most of the time.
Jun Zishu had used such an act against Ning Qinghuan yesterday, and Pei Xiuyun was putting on a similar act for the fifth prince today.
It didn't matter even if the act was clichéd. It was fine so long as it worked.
Meanwhile, Ning Qinghuan let out a derisive snort when she heard Pei Xiuyun's words, her hatred for the girl growing even bigger.
"There you go again with that act of yours."
Even though Pei Xiuyun was behaving similarly as Jun Zishu did yesterday, the effects were entirely different. In Ning Qinghuan's opinion, Jun Zishu was kind to the point of being pitiful, whereas Pei Xiuyun was fake to the point of being disgusting.
"What is going on with you, Qinghuan? It's like you've changed into an entirely different person ever since your cousin arrived. It isn't Xiuyun's fault, so why must you push the blame onto her? I'll get angry with you if you keep this up."
In the fifth prince's opinion, Ning Qinghuan was simply unreasonable.
Not to mention, Ning Qinghuan's cousin was of lowly status. Yet, Ning Qinghuan was arguing with the friends she had known for years just for the sake of this cousin whom she had only known for a few months. She had even gone as far as to distort the truth. Her actions were simply disappointing.
"I have always been wanting to get angry with you. Wan'er's matter is merely the tipping point. If it weren't for you, I would never have tolerated Pei Xiuyun."
The two started quarreling, just like that. Girls often liked to bring up old accounts when arguing, and Ning Qinghuan was no exception. And although the fifth prince showed himself to be mild-tempered on the surface, he wasn't a kind person.
Moreover, in an argument between boys and girls, the more assertive the female side behaved, the more unreasonable the male side would find the female side to be.
"Forget it, Qinghuan. I'm not interested in having a meaningless argument with you. You can leave now," the fifth prince said with a huff.
"Are you admitting defeat because you can't win an argument against me?" Ning Qinghuan taunted.
"That's enough, Big Brother Five. Don't fight with Big Sister Qinghuan. That will only sour your relationship and make others happy," Pei Xiuyun pleaded as she tugged at the fifth prince's sleeve.
"Others? What do you mean?"
"The fourth prince, of course. Big Sister Qinghuan should be friends with the fourth prince. If you argue with Big Sister Qinghuan, it'll only make him happy, Big Brother Five."
"What?" The fifth prince was surprised. Then, he glared at Ning Qinghuan and demanded, "You know I have a bad relationship with my fourth brother, Ning Qinghuan, so why are you doing this?"
"What does it have to do with you with whom I befriend?"
Ning Qinghuan smiled out of anger. She did not bother denying Pei Xiuyun's words.
Although her relationship with the fourth prince wasn't at the level of friendship, she owed the fourth prince a favor. To be precise, she owed the fourth prince two favors after yesterday's incident.
"Are you serious, Ning Qinghuan?"
"Stop asking, Big Brother Five. Little Sister Wan'er and the fourth prince have already…"
Although Pei Xiuyun spoke as if she was trying to defuse the situation, she was actually adding oil to the fire. For her last sentence, she even stopped halfway and covered her mouth, making it seem as if she had just said something that shouldn't be said.
""What did you say?""
Ning Qinghuan and the fifth prince simultaneously asked the same question as they turned to look at Pei Xiuyun.
"Yesterday… I saw the fourth prince giving Little Sister Wan'er a jade pendant yesterday, and they looked very intimate with each other. Also, after Little Sister Wan'er fell into the water yesterday, the fourth prince immediately came to her rescue."
Pei Xiuyun did not clearly describe what had exactly happened between the fourth prince and Jun Zishu. However, her vague and ambiguous narrative made it even more likely for others to reach the false conclusion Pei Xiuyun wanted.
"That pendant belonged to Wan'er, to begin with," Ning Qinghuan retorted after recalling the words Jun Zishu said to her yesterday."
"Why was it in my fourth brother's hands, then?"
"What does that have to do with you?"
Ning Qinghuan couldn't be bothered to explain the incident that involved her, Jun Zishu, and the fourth prince. Moreover, even if she did explain it, doing so would only increase the fifth prince's suspicion regarding their relationship with the fourth prince.
Simply put, there was no point in trying to clear her and Jun Zishu's names.
[Host! Pei Xiuyun sold you out!]
Little Fairy was furious. Pei Xiuyun had agreed to realize their common goal with Jun Zishu yesterday. Yet, now, the white lotus had gone back on her word!
That's within expectations. Also, don't you think her actions will bring even better results for us?
[I guess you're right.]
"You have truly disappointed me, Ning Qinghuan."
The fifth prince was close to losing his mind now. Originally, he was already angry because of Ning Qinghuan's false accusation toward Pei Xiuyun. Now, after finding out that Ning Qinghuan was friends with his rival for the throne, his anger had soared to even higher levels. He was also alarmed when he realized that Ning Qinghuan, who represented General Ning's forces, might not belong to him in the future.
He couldn't help but lose confidence now that he discovered that he was starting to lose control over certain things.
"Well, I am very sorry for that, Your Highness the Fifth Prince."
Ning Qinghuan stood up and politely curtsied.
"It seems that I have made a lot of blunders today, so I hope you can forgive me, Your Highness. Also, you don't have to come to the General's Mansion to find me from now on. I'm not worthy of your time."
Ning Qinghuan turned around and left after saying these words.
In the meantime, Jun Zishu, who had been spectating the show, couldn't help but praise her cousin for her coolness in front of Little Fairy.
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