Red spider lilies were associated with the souls path in the underworld; the flowers guided it before it reincarnated.

What this symbolism signified in Lance Huas life was something Chihiro couldn ascertain.

System . . ?

[Coin balance: 0.]

So, basically, anything regarding the past history of Lord Hua was off limit until I gather enough coins? What is so important about this secret that makes it so heavily guarded?

She trained herself to not show outward expressions when conversing with System. Otherwise, people might look at her and think she was crazy. As a Guardian, a disciple in this enlightenment way called the Path of Indifference, she had to be a stellar example of the practitioner.

She was theoretically crazy, talking to a series of dialogue boxes like that. What made it worse was actually System had no voice. So, not only did she speak with another entity in her head, but this entity was also silent.

System, I don have disciples to teach, do I? I recall the Guardians don teach like that. Some trusted subordinates, perhaps, but not precisely teaching disciples.

[No. There is an academy under the Dome that provides education for this reason. You can improve yourself without worrying about another persons progress.]

The last thing she needed as a transmigrator was an extra assignment to cultivate other people. She didn like teaching. She loved understanding new concepts and applying her newly found knowledge, but she was a lousy teacher. At her previous jobs, before or during the Pandemic Year, she scratched her head while training new employees in her team. In the end, she just passed a copy of the manual book and let the juniors practise at their pace, asking her for mere clarification, not step-by-step examples.

Learning new things, on the other hand, was invigorating for her. The Path of Indifference was the tool she didn know she needed. She knew she would be healed with the art of conquering the mind to avoid getting affected by romance.

It was no good if she had been transported here only to let her heart be broken again by men. Remember the statement All men are the same. This evil guy here was a man. The logic still applied that he would betray or disappoint her somehow.

This period of living as General Chiaki Spring in the Dome would be the perfect healing time for her, not rushed.

Only by looking inside the self did one accomplish peace to know the world outside the self.

Following the ceremony, as the sun gradually set, the bride and the groom led the guests back to the mansion hall to start the reception. Unlike the typical ceremony in her original world, they skipped the speeches from the family members or close friends. They went straight to the long dining table, waiting for the menu to be served.

Someone ought to be here, but as her eyes scanned the many faces, she couldn find that person.

The congratulations opening speech was done flatly as if everyone knew they simply sat there for a ruse. No one bothered with the pleasantries.

Lance Huas commander approached him to whisper something in his ear.

Did Chiaki need to know every single face in this realm? Probably she had to talk about something with this commander later. She was too alarmed with the large gathering; her soul couldn keep up with this breakthrough. In her origin, forget about the gatherings, the Protected like her jerk of an ex couldn even leave their accommodation.

Call it too much, but she couldn stand not having to wipe her cutleries with antiseptic before digging in.

”What is it? ” His upturned cold eyes threw a side glance at her.

”Nothing. Lord Hua could pass me the tissue, please. ” She could make do with the dry paper. It made no sense as there was no disinfectant to do the job, but it was the habit that she needed to fulfil.

Despite frowning his forehead, Lance Hua said nothing.

The uneventful, almost forced dinner ended as the grandfathers clock hands pointed at eight.

Giving out his hand, the new husband should lead his wife to the dance floor for the newlyweds first dance.

Just act casual, right, System? I can dance for the life of me.

[Do your best.]

Maybe she would unlock a new item if the dance went well, so Chiaki tried to match the waltzing steps of Lance Hua. Her body was pliant in his arms, her head slowly leaning to rest on his shoulders, partly because of her inner desire to doze off. She was busy thinking and inspecting since the morning, absorbing the new environment and preparing herself mentally. It was only fair if she felt sleepy so early.

The holographic device that manifested from the palm proved indeed helpful. Everyone could whip it out and let it take pictures or videos while their hands were also busy with their dance long after the main couple invited the guests to join the dance.

At the decrescendo of the music, she knew what would happen. Like the movies she watched, the groom would do the dip, followed by a sure kiss.

What rare items could she obtain to ease her future journey?

She was promiscuous for advancing cultivation here, so she might as well do whatever System orchestrated. Being unfeeling, she would not feel burdened by this gesture.

”I won kiss you if you don want, ” his low voice murmured when their bodies inched closer before the end of the dance. Chiaki had her hands snaked around his neck already.

”We have spectators. Kiss me, ” she answered determinedly.

Lance Hua stared at her blankly as a response.

Whatever he might think, Chiaki could imagine it clearly: this girl was indeed promiscuous; she had to be watched because who knew, she might run away with the other Guardians behind his back, and so on.

What he was thinking wrongly was not her problem, so she closed her eyes and let her body curve at the perfect dip; her bridal heels felt slipping but Lances robust hold gave her a feeling of safety.

The pianos final tunes faded with the amazed hush from the guests who now faced the centre to watch them kiss.

In another world, with another person, with her real soulmate, if that concept was ever fulfilled, she would show her man off to everyone who got eyes. She wouldn restrain herself from kissing and touching him in public.

But life had taught her harshly the danger of stupid hope, that the people she wished she could turn to for serenades were the ones who said, Its not you its me.

Hardening her heart was the only way to not get hurt; even using her body without feelings was a victory. She controlled all the variables; love and romance weakened people.

His cold lips touched hers, and his faint rose wine scent tickled her nostrils. Amid the gentle but thorough kiss and the intoxicating aroma, she found her legs turned into jelly.

[Congratulations.] The dialogue box popped in her mind with exploding fireworks and party hats. The sound would have been deafening if it had been in a more interactive game.

[Intimacy level +20.]

She scoffed mentally. Intimacy level, huh? She could remember her younger self, seven or eight years ago, was absorbed in this kind of game like many other teenage girls. It was fun to project the romantic ideals onto the fictional boyfriends in the game. It was customary to portray oneself squealing if the scenes rewarded them with kisses or more intimate gestures.

But she found herself now just accepting the reward coldly.

As the couple retreated from the banquet, two men approached them. She knew them from the memories of Chiaki Spring.

The north and west generals, Azure Ao and Jasper Wymark, respectively. Azures blue-green irises sparked genuine happiness when greeting the newlyweds.

”Congratulations, Chiaki, Lord Hua. Good luck in fixing the barrier. ”

What the-

This was totally not normal. No sane person in her origin world would congratulate newlyweds in this formula: congratulations, please fix our problem ASAP.

Jasper echoed the same sentiment, and added, ”Ill respect your choice after this. ” Both nodded respectfully to Lance Hua.

She knew he referred to their past trysts. Oh, well. . .

”Chiaki, before you leave, ” called Azure as the newlyweds turned around, ”I must tell you that he can make it tonight. Failed to catch the last train from the academy. Hell see you once you return to the south. ”

”The nephew, ” Chiaki rolled the words out. Ironically, the one who was not here was the only relative in this world she had.

She wished the two generals to enjoy the rest of the festivities as she left the hall with Lance.

”If Lord Hua would wait . . . I need to go to the restroom for a moment. ”

”Do you need help? ”

Chiaki shook her head and thanked him. The dress train had been removed, so she would find no obstacles in the toilet. Lance Hua waited next to the corridor alone.

Chiaki finished her business and was about to open the stall door to wash her hands, but two ladies voices reached her ears, pausing her movement.

”You heard how she called her husband, right? Still using his formal title, Lord Hua. ”

The other lady giggled at it. ”Its like watching a directed play between an actor and an actress. Her heart is never gonna be available for him. ”

”Yeah, poor Lord Hua. If that little wife couldn make him happy, we need to tell him that there are perfectly proper women out there who could be qualified wives. ”

The second lady put the last nail to seal the coffin, ”The women who never did and won answer to furnace calls. The prim and proper ladies will be close-knit only with their men before the wedding. Who knows, if she couldn keep her paws away from the other men, it might be sort of addictive to her. ”

Chiaki waited until the closed restroom door blocked the shared rude, judging laughs of those two gossipers who walked out. When she walked back to the corridor entrance, Lance was still waiting.

The music and merriment were getting fainter as they approached the wedding chamber. If she was a high-class prostitute in everyones eyes, then it made little difference whether she consummated their marriage tonight or not.

But Lance didn close the door after both of them were in.

”You can sleep here. Ill sleep in the next room. Open the connecting door if you need anything; its unlocked. ”

Watching his black-gold suit-clad back move away from her, she released a long overdue sigh.

It doesn matter if he didn love her, either. As long as the conjoined power was in her hands, she could defeat the threats and restore peace to the land.

Her indifference would protect her from false hope and wrong ideas about relationships. Everything was gonna be okay and easy, right?

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