Chapter 1 - Birthday Gift
001- Birthday gift
Lu Mingshu would always remember her seventh birthday.
She was born on the second day of February during the flower festival, where numerous brightly colored flowers were in full bloom.
When she woke up that morning, she found that Hui Niang had folded a peach blossom for her. When she put it in her hair, it was especially beautiful.
Afterwards, Hui Niang said, “When I woke up this morning, I heard a magpie call from outside the window. That’s definitely a good sign, as it’s Miss’ birthday today.”
As soon as Hui Niang had finished speaking, Xiao Huan ran in while panting. “Miss, miss, I’ve got big news!” She didn’t wait for Hui Niang to berate her for her impudence as she shouted, “It’s your father! Your father’s sent someone!”
Hui Niang swallowed the words she’d been about to say, startled. “What?”
“My father?” Lu Mingshu quickly turned around.
She hadn’t ever seen her father before. However, based on what her mother had told her, her father had left to become an apprentice to a master while she’d still been in her mother’s womb, yet had never returned. Her mother simply said that her father had probably been delayed by something.
“That’s right, a guest just entered. He claims to have been sent by your father…”
However, before Xiao Huan could finish, she was suddenly smacked by Hui Niang. “What do you mean by ‘your father’? Don’t you have any manners? You are to address him as ‘master’!”
“Oh…” This wasn’t the key point however, thus Xiao Huan excitedly grabbed Lu Mingshu by the arm. “Miss, you haven’t seen the horse carriage parked outside! It’s so pretty! The person that was sent here is as pretty as a fairy too! When I was outside, I overheard someone say that our master was a Sect Leader. Our master must’ve had a great teacher and has since become an expert!”
The Lu family’s son-in-law, Fu Ze, had originally been very talented in martial arts. However, the town of Qingfeng was located in a remote location, thus there weren’t any good martial school within a hundred mile radius. As such, the Lu family had withdrawn all of their savings in order to help him find a good teacher in the capital seven years ago. Despite this, there hadn’t been any news from him since he’d left.
Lu Mingshu had had a wish ever since she was young: She wished that, whenever her father came home, they’d have a family reunion. Never in her wildest dreams had she expected for this wish to come true on her birthday!
Was this a birthday gift from the heavens?
“It must be that master ended up succeeding, and that he’s finally here to pick you up! Miss will be able to live a good life from here on out…”
Lu Mingshu ignored Hui Niang's shouts from behind as she quickly stood up and hurried out of the room.
Her hurried footsteps led her to right outside the drawing room, where she stopped.
A female's voice drifted out of the room, “This is for you.”
Lu Mingshu took a deep breath, then tip-toed towards the room and curiously peered in one of the windows.
Both her grandfather and her mother were present, as was a female dressed in beautiful silk fabrics, who was seated atop a guest seat with her back to Lu Mingshu. Though she couldn’t see the female’s face, she was able to see an exquisite b.u.t.terfly hairpin pinned in her black hair, which had been rolled up into a bun.
The maidservant by her side was in the middle of handing over an exquisite box to her grandfather when she peeked in.
Her grandfather received the box, carefully opened it, and pulled a piece of paper out.
Afterwards, she saw her grandfather’s complexion rapidly redden before he asked in a trembling voice, “ This… what’s the meaning of this?”
That maidservant lightly smiled as she emanated an air of arrogance and contempt. “It’s said that the Lu family is the family of a farmer and a scholar. Even though you’re poor, you should posses enough literary knowledge and be well-mannered. It couldn’t be that Elder Lu can’t read, could it?”
Lu Mingshu was stunned. Was this maidservant mocking her grandfather? A maidservant?
“Rui Xiang.” The female seated atop the guest seat said, her voice oddly sweet-sounding.
The maidservant turned towards the female and bowed respectfully. “Yes, miss.”
The female said, “They’re from the countryside, thus it’s inevitable that they lack insight. Speak nicely with them, don’t be rude.”
“This servant understands.”
The maidservant turned around, her chin now slightly raised. “ Elder Lu, as it seems that you can’t read, this servant shall explain it to you. This is a divorce letter. Once your precious daughter signs it, she will forever part ways with our sect leader. They will then have nothing to do with each other anymore.”
Lu Mingshu stared with wide eyes. A divorce letter? Father hadn’t sent someone to pick them up, but to divorce mother?
Her mother suddenly stood up and grabbed the piece of paper. Her hands shook as she read through it, her eyes full of disbelief.
“No, I don’t believe it!” Mother suddenly tore up the paper in anger. “Ah Ze wouldn’t treat me like this! Where is he? Let him come here personally!”
“You want the sect leader to come here personally?” That maidservant lightly laughed. “Mrs. Lu, do you even realize what being the sect leader of the Nine Jade Palace represents? He’s someone that even the King of Dongyue has to treat as an esteemed guest; for what reason would the sect leader come and see a village woman like you?” She glanced at the torn up paper, then took another one out. “Tearing that one up was useless, there are more copies here.”
“Qingyi!” Grandfather stopped Lu Mingshu’s mother before she could continue, then looked turned his gaze towards the female that had remained relatively uninvolved since the start. “Young lady, you must speak explain everything to me. Ah Ze is my family’s son-in-law, which is clearly stated on the marriage certificate. Even if he does want a divorce, shouldn’t he still come back and tell us in person?”
“Wasn’t everything clearly explained in the divorce letter?” The maidservant continued, “Our sect leader…”
“I wasn’t talking to you!” Elder Lu shouted. “What’s a servant like you b.u.t.ting in for? Hasn’t your master taught you anything?”
“You—” The maidservant angrily said as she straightened her body. “Elder Lu, it’s already considered a courtesy for our miss to address you as elder. ‘A servant like me?’ Did you know that ‘a servant like me’ also goes to the palace? Even the high-ranking officials of your Dongyue have to be polite to me!”
The female that had remained uninvolved and had let her maidservant confront elder Lu, suddenly raised her head. “Rui Xiang, be nice. Don’t be like these lower-cla.s.s people, who use words in order to gain an advantage.”
“Sorry miss, this servant will immediately clear things up with him.”
The female waved her hand. “ No need. Let me speak.”
She turned to face Lu Mingshu’s angry grandfather and incessantly weeping mother, then said in a calm voice, “Elder Lu, you should know that even heroes can fall on difficult times. Back then, when Fu Ze had nothing but ambitions that were hard to realize, your self-claiming ‘kind’ Lu family not only didn’t lend him a helping hand, you actually forced him to become a member of your family. Taking advantage of him is unforgivable by itself. As for the marriage certificate…”
Even the young Lu Mingshu could distinguish the disdain in her voice. “I wouldn’t have the face to bring that up if I were you.”
Once he’d heard her words, Lu Mingshu’s grandfather’s eyes immediately widened, while her mother forgot to cry as she looked at her in shock.
Lu Mingshu clenched her fists tightly, as she felt unspeakably shocked. What had she just say? Grandfather had forced father? If grandfather had truly treated father badly, grandfather wouldn’t have taken out all his savings in order to help father find a good master! Their family wasn’t rich; they only had a single residence and fifty acres of land. She’d heard from mother that, in order to gather father’s travel expenses, they’d sold half of their fields.
After a moment, their grandfather asked while trembling, “These words… were all said by him?”
The maidservant coldly chuckled. “Why? Do you not admit to it?”
The female waved her hand as she continued, “He’s a broad-minded man who’s become a dragon and entered the sea. He isn’t trying to make things difficult for you. As long as these divorce papers are signed, he’ll have nothing to do with the Lu family anymore. I’ve heard that he has a child? The silver banknotes in this box will be child support. Consider this his repayment to the Lu family for her meals all these years.”
The maidservant quickly added, “Elder Lu, there’s no meaning in you continuing this argument. Our sect leader isn’t some son-in-law you can order around anymore. With his genius level of talent, it only took him seven short years to go from the inner breath realm to the spirit realm. He’s ranked as one of the top experts in the entirety of Xichuan now. If it weren’t for your Lu family tying him down, he could even enter the heaven list. Can someone like this truly be supported by your family? A n.o.ble person knows oneself. If I were you, I would neatly sign these divorce papers, in order to avoid inviting disgrace upon myself!”
“You—” Lu Mingshu’s mother was so angry that her eyes had turned red. “What nonsense are you spouting?! Back then it was clearly Ah Ze—”
“Qingyi!” Grandfather stopped mother once again, then tightly clenched his jaw. “Don’t say anything meaningly, sign the papers!”
Lu Mingshu’s Mother was dazed, then shouted, “Father!”
Grandfather coldly replied, “Didn’t they clearly explain it? If we can’t support the person, even if you don’t sign the papers, that person still won’t stay. Since he’s resolved himself to wipe us from his past, then let it be as he wishes!”
Her Mother fell silent, then slowly signed the divorce letters amidst choked sobs.
Once the matter had been settled, the maidservant said, “Well then Miss Lu, your marriage is irrelevant now that you’ve signed the divorce papers. You’re still young, thus it still isn’t too late for you to marry someone else. Just don’t find someone like our sect leader. We all understand that you want to find someone who’s young and talented, but you need to keep in mind your own status. You can’t be greedy if you want to grow old with someone!”
That female stood up and bowed her head in respect. However, the words she spoke were laced with arrogance, “We’ve troubled you. We’ll take our leave now.”
When she saw them leave the drawing room, Lu Mingshu can’t help but follow them to the courtyard door.
The female noticed her and turned to glance at her momentarily, before turning back around.
Like Xiao Huan had said, she was as pretty as a fairy.
And yet, would someone as pretty as a fairy speak such words; words that people found unbearable?
As the horse carriage was leaving, she heard a voice trail out from the inside, “Rui Xiang, you said too much just now. What was the point in telling them so much?”
Rui Xiang’s voice was completely different than before as she answered playfully, “Because this servant can’t stand them? What sort of figure is the sect leader, to have been a son-in-law to such a family…”
Lu Mingshu never thought that her seventh birthday’s gift wouldn’t be a family reunion, but a divorce paper to her mother from her father.
 An informal way of addressing Fu Ze, the MC’s father.