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.”