Chapter 5: Jade and Beautiful Sword Fairies
When Yi Ping regained his consciousness, he found himself in a large feathery bed. The bed was fragrant and comfortable. He could not believe such a comfortable bed could actually exist. He was feeling so relax in the bed that he did not want to wake up.
“Protégé Master, you have awakened?” A sweet voice was heard.
Yi Ping had a sudden shock. He had suddenly remembered the events that had taken place at Mt. Heavenly. He called out panicky, “Xian’Er, where are you?”
He looked around him and saw two young beautiful maidens standing in front of the bed who were smiling at him. He blinked his eyes. He had recognized Shui Yujian voice but there were two ‘Yujian’ now.
Yi Ping said, “Yujian?”
The exquisite young beautiful maiden that had just spoken laughed softly, “No, that is my sister. I am Shui Meijan. We are twins! You can also call me the Beautiful Sword Fairy.”
Shui Meijian was delighted that Yi Ping had awakened. When she looked at him, her heart was fluttering. She was a little disappointed that he had called out her sister first. But soon she had forgotten about her disappointment as she introduced herself.
Shui Yujian sighed in her heart. She was more reserved than her twin sister. She pursed her lips and wished that she could respond quicker than her sister.
Yi Ping nodded and asked, “Where is Yixian? Is she…”
Shui Yujian burst into tears, “Protégé Mistress had passed away. We have laid her body into the inner sanctuary.” This time, she was quicker than her sister.
Yi Ping was silent for a long time while Shui Meijian and Shui Yujian looked at him quietly; they did not dare to disturb his thoughts.
Yi Ping was suddenly aware that he was clothed in a new and clean garment. He muttered, “My clothing…?”
Shui Yujian said, “Protégé Master, Sister Mei and I have showered for you and help you get dressed. As for your old clothing, it is too dirty and too difficult to mend. So we have thrown it away. Protégé Master, don’t be upset with us…”
Yi Ping turned flustered, “It is not that…I am a man, the two of you are still young maidens…I…”
Shui Meijian giggled softly, “Protégé Master must be shy! You are our master now and we are all your properties. It is our duty to serve you and to take care of your daily needs.”
Yi Ping tried to change the topic by asking them, “You are Beautiful Sword Fairy Shui Meijian and Jade Sword Fairy Shui Yujian?”
Yujian and Meijian said at the same time, “That is right, Protégé Master!”
Yi Ping said, “Take me to the inner sanctuary. I want to take a look at Yixian.”
Shui Yujian appeared to be panicky, “Protégé Master, the ice casket has already been sealed! We can only bring you to the inner sanctuary chamber.”
Yi Ping sighed, “Is that so? It’s alright. Just bring me there.”
Shui Meijian and Shui Yujian bowed respectfully, “Yes, Protégé Master!”
Yi Ping said awkwardly, “Disperse with this ‘Protégé Master’ formalities. Err…I don’t feel comfortable with it.”
Shui Meijian and Shui Yujian took a look at each other before saying, “Yes, Master!”
Yi Ping sighed and said, “That Master word too.”
As they walked along the passageways, Yi Ping noticed that it was colder than usual and asked out of curiosity, “The Eternal Ice Palace seems to be a cold place. How can the two of you bear this unbearable cold?”
Shui Meijian laughed softly, “Mas…We are used to the cold. The Eternal Ice Palace is situated beneath the Heavenly Lake. That is why none of the pugilists can find this place.”
Yi Ping was astonished, “We are under a lake?” He looked around him and admired the marbles of the passageway. “This must have taken a lot of effort and time to construct…”
He imagined the hardship of the laborers and wondered if anyone of them would be allowed to leave the Eternal Ice Palace alive. It was because even though the Eternal Ice Palace was not an unorthodox clan, it was a mysterious place which is off-limits to outsiders and shrouded in secrecy.
Shui Meijian smiled, “I do not know. It has been here when we are here. And the Eternal Ice Palace is centuries old. But we do have sisters that are skilled in masonry here. I will ask them later.”
Yi Ping replied, “Oh. That won’t be a necessary. I am just being curious…”
But as they walked along the passage, Yi Ping saw many more maidens that were dressed in refinery, he could not resist commenting. “These maidens are all so young and beautiful; to think that they have to spend all their eternity here. It is really such a pity.”
Shui Yujian had misunderstood and said shyly, “We are all your women. If Master desires any one of us, please feel free to summon us to your presence…”
Yi Ping was startled and he quickly said, “This is not what I mean. And can you imagine the boredom of staying here all your life? All of you deserve to find a partner, have a family and knows what is happening to the fraternity at large.”
All of a sudden, both Shui Yujian and Shui Meijian burst into tears.
Yi Ping was at a loss as he asked, “I…I am so sorry. What has happened?”
Shui Meijian sobbed, “Master, you may not know that the Eternal Ice Palace does releases our older protégés when they are twenty-five so that they can get married. But their fates often ended up in misery. The outside fraternity is crude and fraught with dangers. If they were discovered to be from the Eternal Ice Palace, they would be tortured by the pugilists for our clan martial secrets. ”
Shui Yujian added, “As Sister Mei and I are the direct protégés of our late Protégé Mistress the Celestial Fairy, we the only exceptions and we cannot leave the Eternal Ice Palace. However, the rest of our sisters have to leave the Eternal Ice Palace when they are twenty-five. This is an unbroken rule. Unless Protégé Master is willing to accept them as direct protégés, they are not allowed to stay.”
Yi Ping asked, “Why not allow those who want to stay to stay and let those who want to leave to leave?”
Shui Yujian replied, “It had been like this in the distant past. But some protégé sisters either regret their decisions to stay or leave, so it was finally made into a clan golden rule that all non-direct protégé disciples have to leave when they reach twenty-five. Since then, there have been no exceptions.”
Yi Ping asked, “The clan rule can’t be changed?”
Shui Yujian said, “It cannot be changed. It is considered a great disrespect and dishonor to past venerable leaders to do so.”
Yi Ping nodded for he understood that clan honor means everything to the people of the martial fraternity. But he added defiantly, “The Eternal Ice Palace is off-limits to men. I am sure that it is a clan golden rule as well. That I am here, does it mean the clan rule has been broken?”
Shui Meijian laughed and interrupted cheekily, “That is not entirely true. We do have men guests from time to time. Moreover, the first founder of the Eternal Ice Palace is a man!”
Yi Ping was taken aback, “The Eternal Ice Palace is founded by a man?!”
Shui Yujian giggled. “That is right! In fact, several of our past Eternal Ice Palace leaderships were helmed by men. But because our past few protégé mistresses had been women and it not convenient for men to be in the Eternal Ice Palace, so it is generally off-limits to men.”
Shui Meijian added, “Moreover, the skills of the Eternal Ice Palace are not wholly suitable for men. So generally, the leadership of the Eternal Ice Palace is often passed to a woman.”
Yi Ping asked, “I don’t understand. Since the founder of the Eternal Ice Palace is a man, how is it possible for him to invent the Icy Heavenly Tears and the Divine Emerald Skill among many which are more suitable for women?”
Shui Yujian laughed softly, “That is because the martial origins of the Eternal Ice Palace come from his wife! The founder was said to be a scholar who did not know any martial skills.”
Yi Ping rubbed his nose for warmth and looked at Shui Yujian and Shui Meijian directly for the first time. Only a blind man would fail to see how beautiful and appealing they were.
Indeed, other than Shui Yixian, he had never seen anyone else as beautiful and captivating as them. To think that just a few days ago, he had been so fearful of the reputation of the Eternal Ice Palace.
Shui Meijian raised her alluring voice, “Master! Are you alright?”
Yi Ping woke from his trance and quickly replied, “I am alright. You really shouldn’t keep calling me Master…”
Shui Meijian giggled, “Master…alas I forget so fast. I’m so sorry!”
Yi Ping awkwardly replied, “Never mind…”
Shui Yujian laughed softly, “Master, you are looking at us so intently just now. Is there something wrong?”
Yi Ping said quickly, “No, nothing is wrong. I am just day-dreaming. You also, alas I am not your Master…”
Shui Meijian teased, “Master, you been sleeping for two days and you still feel sleepy?”
Yi Ping had completely given up on correcting them as he sighed in his heart. It seemed that they were too mindful of their manners and found it hard to adjust their etiquettes.
Shui Yujian gave Shui Meijian a quick tug and she quickly kept quiet. When Shui Yujian had tugged her, she realized that she was acting inappropriately and forgot that Yi Ping was their protégé master.
Yi Ping soon realized that Shui Yujian was more refined and careful in her speech while Shui Meijian was quick in speech and would say anything she thought of.
While walking to their destination, Shui Meijian began to hymn softly as she began to sing in a low voice.
Yi Ping was startled. Her voice and music was very beautiful. Yi Ping asked, “Mei’Er, you know how to sing too?”
Shui Meijian was startled and asked panicky, “Something wrong, Master?” She hoped that she had not offended him. She was almost in tears as she asked fearfully, “Did I disturb you…”
Even Shui Yujian was startled.
Yi Ping quickly said, “Oh no. Your lyrics and the melodies that you have just hymn, is just too beautiful. I enjoy music too.” And he began to whistle beautifully too.
Shui Meijian was delighted as she happily clapped, “My sister and I love to sing too!”
Shui Yujian was also absolutely delighted that Yi Ping also appreciated music as she hymned a quick melody.
Yi Ping praised her, “This tune is so unique. I have never heard of it. It is simply too heavenly. If I can hear this every day, I will be content.”
Shui Yujian flustered as she lowered her face, “We can play the zither, pipa and the erhu too.”
Yi Ping gasped, “That is not easy. The two of you must be really talented in your musical accomplishments.”
Shui Meijian laughed captivating, “Our Protégé Mistress does not really encourage us, and thinks it is a waste of time…”
Shui Yujian tugged her hard and said, “Let us continue now. We are reaching soon.”
Yi Ping nodded.
It was not long before they had reached the inner sanctuary chamber.
Shui Yujian said, “Master, we have reached.”
The chamber was large and freezing cold. In the middle of the chamber was a white marble casket.
Yi Ping immediately ran to the casket and fell onto it. He muttered, “Yixian, Yixian, why have you left me…”
Yi Ping was clearly inconsolable for a long time. Shui Yujian tried to console him but he had not heard her.
Yi Ping was too sorrowful. He wailed to heavens for separating Shui Yixian and him as he replayed his memories of her.
It was not long before tears appeared in the sisters’ eyes as well as they watched him expressed his sorrows for their late protégé mistress.
Shui Yujian could feel her heart aching. Her impressions of men were generally not impressive until she had met Yi Ping. Even though she had only known him briefly, he already had a place in her heart.
Shui Meijian was clenching her hands together onto her bosoms as she held back her tears. She had secretly fallen in love with him.
At first when she was notified by her sister that they got a new protégé master, she was in shock. When she had saw Yi Ping, she was even more startled with his noble air and looks. It was love at first sight for her…
Yi Ping suddenly stood up and said tearfully, “I got to leave this place now.”
It was because he had a sudden realization what he was going to do next. If he could not avenge for his wife’s death, then his wife would never be put to rest.
Shui Meijian hastily asked, “Master, where are you going? You can’t just leave the Eternal Ice Palace.”
Yi Ping said, “I am going to avenge my wife’s killer and I am going to find her no matter where she is!”
Shui Yujian asked, “Master, you know the killer?”
Yi Ping hummed coldly, “Even though I did not see her face but I will never forget her martial display! I will find her and offer her blood to my dear wife!”
Shui Meijian said, “Master, then let us accompany you!”
Yi Ping shook his head, “I have no idea how long it is going to take. Moreover, the Eternal Ice Palace needs someone to take care of and to protect it from external threat. As the most senior protégés, that responsibility will be yours.”
Shui Yujian cried, “Don’t we have the same responsibility to avenge our late protégé mistress too?”
Yi Ping had already made up his mind. And moreover, Shui Yujian and Shui Meijian had never been to the outside fraternity. They had no idea how dangerous and treacherous the people of the martial fraternity could be. Besides with two beautiful maidens accompanying him, it could be more of a hindrance.
But he had no idea how much he had hurt them. It was because they had thought that he did not like them and did not want them to be in his company.