Monday, June 4, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 21

I have argued with him before, however it wasn't this fierce. Although I was scared, however I courageously said in a loud voice to the assassin: "If we are talking about honorable people, then I am more of a honorable person than these two men, even though one of them is the Emperor and one of them is the Crown Prince, however based on importance, they can't be compared to me. Since you're an assassin, you probably know that I am not only a Crown Princess, but also the princess of Western Liang, I only married Li Cheng Yin for the peace of the two countries. Although you have the Emperor in your hands, however the Emperor's temper is tough, so he will not be affected, of course forcing the Crown Prince and the Shen Wu army will result in your body being dismembered, even if you kill the Emperor, the worst that can happen is for the Crown Prince to ascend the throne, asides from death, you don't have any other options. Even if you take the Crown Prince as hostage, the Emperor have other sons, so he certainly wouldn't be affected by you. However I am different, I am not only the Crown Princess, but also the princess of Western Liang, if I were to die, Western Liang would turn upside down, both countries will start a war, people would be in a terrible position, so the Emperor and the Crown Prince will definitely not allow me to die, if you take me as hostage, I will guarantee that you will be safe and sound and have the chance to escape."

       "Nonsense!" Li Cheng Yin was very angry: "We are facing a strong opponent, what are you trying to say? Someone come! Bring her back to the Eastern Palace!"

        I was only looking at the assassin: "Think carefully, are you going to take me? Is it yes or no?"

        I don't know if what I had just said had persuaded the assassin, after some time have passed, he suddenly slowly nodded his head.

        I was surprised by the unexpected response, said: "Let go of the Emperor, I will follow you!"

        The assassin had stared at me coldly, finally opened his mouth and said: "You come here first." The way he speaks was extremely odd, like the times when I first learned Central Plain's bureaucratic language, the tone of speech kept moving up and down, an indescribable unpleasantness to hear. However the situation right now was very urgent, I don't have much time to overthink, so I tried to persuade the assassin: "You let go of the Emperor first."
  
        The assassin did not say anything anymore, moving the sword a bit as if he was about to cut open the Emperor's throat, I shouted: "Don't move, I will come over first."

        Li Cheng Yin rushed to the front to stop me, however I 'shua' pointed the sword towards him, he didn't have a choice, but to move his body sideways to dodge. I have already ran towards the assassin. The assassin grabbed me with one hand, while loosening his other hand, at this moment I don't know where the 'whooshing' sound was coming from, arrows were shot from an elevated place towards the assassin. The assassin reached out his hand that was holding the sword, twisting it at a certain angle, then chopping all the arrows being shot towards him. The Emperor took advantage of this opportunity to loosen his control, I lifted the sword to stab the assassin, however he was quite fast like a demon, 'shua' the sword had already fell to the ground, I rushed forward and used all my strength to push the Emperor away.

        My push had caused the Emperor to move a few steps back, Zeng Xian immediately grabbed the Emperor's arm, pulling him away from assassin's sword. The assassin's ice cold fingers were grasping onto my throat, his sword that was colder than his hand was being pressed against my neck.

       "Xiao Feng!"

        I could hear Li Cheng Yin calling me, I turned my head, only able to see his face, and the expression in his eyes.
  
        I think I will forever remember his face, even if I die. I know that the Emperor and him will definitely not let the assassin go, I am not that important, Western Liang was also not that important. The words I had just said, he and I understands, those words were just to trick people.

        The Shen Wu army were coming here to protect the Emperor and Li Cheng Yin, I looked at Li Cheng Yin and smiled, although I know my smile was hard to look at, however I tried my best to force a smile, even if it's the last time, I would definitely not cry, I want him to remember the way I smile.

        I mouthed out: "Shoot the arrows."

        I know that the Shen Wu army has surrounded the area with arrows in their hands, if they were to shoot the arrows in a uniform motion, then the assassin would turn into a hedgehog. This person with exceptional martial arts skills, killed many people, taken the Emperor as hostage, if we don't immediately eliminate, then it will definitely cause great danger.

        Li Cheng Yin seemed as though he did not see the movement of my lips, the Emperor said: "Don't take reckless actions!"

        I never thought that the Emperor would give this order, the assassin's cold sword was placed near my throat, Li Cheng Yin grabbed a feather arrow from Zeng Xian's hands, said: "If you dare to hurt my wife even a little bit, I Li Cheng Yin will use all my strength to cut you into pieces so that you can die! You immediately let her go, I will allow you to safely leave, my words will suit my action, like this arrow!" When Li Cheng Yin had finished talking, he snapped the arrow into two pieces, threw the arrow to the assassin's feet, shouted: "Let her go!"

        The assassin coldly laughed, afterwards he turned around the sword hilt, fiercely strike the back of my head, all I can see was pitch-black, then I fainted.

        When I woke up, I felt very cold and hungry, also my hands were tied, even if I move I couldn't move. After some time has passed, I finally remembered the situation, the assassin had taken me as  hostage, Li Cheng Yin had broke the arrow to demand him to release me. Then where am I now?
  
        Right now the sky is bright, when I opened my eyes I could see tree branches, thick pine trees covering the blue sky, I don't know how long I had fainted, I also don't know where the assassin went, and where is this place.
 
        The sound of running water can be heard, a chilliness can be felt when the wind had blown in this direction, although I couldn't move, however I was able to move my eyes, seeing withered grass on the left side, a pile of stones on the right side. I couldn't see anything further, I was hungry, inevitably my visions would be blurry, the Capital is a very big place, even if the Shen Wu army did a big search, it will still take a few days until they come here. If I was unable to wait for the Shen Wu army to come here, then I will probably starve to death, that would be very pitiful.
 
         As I was thinking about this, suddenly a corner of a gown can be seen on my left side, I looked at that direction, recognized that it was the gown that the masked assassin was wearing last night, I was surprised that he didn't bring me to a faraway place to escape. Perhaps maybe because the nine city gates were being searched heavily by the Shen Wu and Yu Lin armies, so he brought me with him as a shield of protection. This person with exceptional martial arts skills, killing people as if their lives weren't important, but also forcing the Emperor, it's obvious that he was a runaway criminal. Right now I have fell into his hands, don't know how he will torture me, I felt this indescribable scariness when thinking about this. However being afraid was being afraid, I understand that there was no use in being afraid,  I can only deceive myself by closing my eyes, if he wants to kill or torture me in anyway then so be it.

        For quite some time there wasn't any movement, however suddenly I could smell an attractive aroma, originally I had wanted to keep my eyes closed, however this aroma was indeed captivating, so I secretly opened my eyes. Apparently there was a bag of lamb meat with astragalus[1] roots right beside me, this type of food, don't mention about Eastern Palace, even on the streets this is an ordinary type of food, however I slept the whole day yesterday, and I didn't eat anything, today I didn't know how long I had fainted, so my stomach was feeling very hungry. This bag of lamb meat beside me, the burst of arom going straight into my nose, really was difficult to resist.

        My stomach was betraying me, making 'gulu gulu' sound.

        However my hands were tied, if I have to beg the assassin.......Hmph! We Western Liang women will never lose face in front of our enemies.
 
         I never thought that without waiting for me to beg him, the assassin would suddenly break the rope that was used to tie my hands, I struggled to get up, looking at the assassin from head to toe. His face was still covered, sitting below the tree, holding the sword while coldly staring at me.

        This place seem to be by the river, because I could hear the sound of running water. The area surrounded by withered grasses, in a far away distance the sound of birds chirping can be heard, wind blowing through the forest, giving a chilly feeling. When I saw the bag of lamb meat, I kept on swallowing my saliva, slowly moving wrist, thinking how I could escape this place. This assassin giving me food to eat, maybe he doesn't want to kill me yet, maybe he fears of something. Thinking of how I can escape from him, his exceptional martial arts skills, only afraid that A'Du is no match for him as well.

       This assassin must have know what I was thinking, said: "Run away, cut leg tendon." He's a man of few words, with a flat tone of voice, hearing it seemed odd, however I understood what he was saying. He was trying to say, if I tried to run away, then he would cut my leg tendon. I am not afraid, I looked at him and made a funny face. How can I say this, life and death and wealth is predestined by heaven, if it is like this, why don't I just eat the lamb meat first, or else I would die of hunger before anyone would be able to rescue me.

        The moment I thought about this, I started to eat the lamb meat. Don't know if I was hungry, but the lamb meat was very delicious as if it was cooked by the chefs in the Imperial Palace, delicious, very delicious! When a person is hungry, anything would be delicious, even lamb meat with astragalus roots. I was eating with pleasure, that assassin couldn't help but to laugh coldly.

       I ate the lamb meat while saying: "I know what you are laughing about......You are just laughing at the Crown Princess, eating in a disgusting way. Even if I look disgusting when I am eating, what does it have to do with you? We Western Liang women don't care about manners. You brought me here, even if you give me lamb meat it doesn't mean I forgive you, I am telling you, you have caused great trouble. You don't know who is my father, if the Western Liang men knew you kidnapped me, they will come here with their horses and use it to step on you until you turn into meat sauce. If you want to survive, then you should stay inside the Yumen gate for the rest of your life, the moment you step into Western Liang, ten thousand horses will step on you until you die. Even if you don't cross the Yumen gate, you still will not survive, because the moment the Emperor gets angry, a million people will die, creating a large stream of blood flowing, you had to make the Emperor angry of all people. Also my husband Li Cheng Yin, he is the Crown Prince, you know what is the Crown Prince? He will be the future Emperor. If he gets angry, although it wouldn't cause as much of a disaster as when the Emperor would get angry, however he can still easily smash you into meat sauce...."

        While I was eating the lamb meat, I kept on saying things to scare him, talking nonstop for quite some time, this assassin did not respond back, when I had finished eating the lamb meat, he still didn't say anything, not fun. Seeing him wear an ordinary gown, holding a sword without any symbols marked, I could not identify his identity, I don't know why he would take the Emperor as hostage. Thinking about this, I suddenly thought of something else.

       Before Sun Er was causing trouble, afterwards an assassin had taken the Emperor as hostage, if someone tells me that these two situations were not related, I would definitely not believe it. This Sun Er is a rascal, how can he know someone with exceptional martial arts skills?....... I rolled my eyes, thinking hard whether there were any clues in between. The assassin's eyes were coldly staring at me, I wasn't afraid even if he was staring at me, what kind of talented people does the Emperor not have? Li Cheng Yin was not stupid, he would definitely be able to track down the assassin through Sun Er just by thinking about the whole situation.

        The assassin with exceptional martial arts skills, unknown identity, would be difficult to track down. However Sun Er is well known, all his family members lives in the Capital, he can run but he can't hide, if we are able to grab hold of Sun Er, there will be some clues left behind. With these clues, it will allow me to escape from the devil's hands.

        This assassin single-handedly fought against Shen Wu army's skilled fighters, powerful enough as if he is unrivaled in this world, he must have some sort of great background. Before taking action, he deliberately sent Sun Er to cause trouble to the divert the attention, so that Li Cheng Yin and I would be distracted. If at that moment we had stayed in the room, would we be killed by the assassin?.......I shivered thinking about this, suddenly I felt that living peacefully up until now was not easy. If A'Du didn't protect me, however A'Du........I jumped up, glared at the assassin, "Did you kill A'Du?"

        The assassin did not respond, only coldly staring at me.

        Although I am not a strong person, however if he really did kill A'Du, I will fight him no matter what happens. I fiercely glared at him, I know that A'Du's martial arts skills was good, although the assassin's martial arts skills was better, however if he did kill her, there must be some kind of wound on his body.  A'Du was just like me, we will destroy the other person if we were to die, leaving wounds on their body. If his body is perfectly fine, then A'Du did not die. I felt that this was poor reasoning, but then again if I were to guess the assassin's personality, honestly in such a short moment, I wouldn't be able to figure it out. I felt anxious, only thinking about A'Du.

        At this moment the assassin used the sword to point at me, faintly said: "Since you are full, then be on your way."
  
         Apparently the lamb meat was going to be my last meal, like the food that the prisoner eats before being beheaded, allowing the prisoner to have a full stomach. I suddenly wasn't afraid, because I know begging for mercy was no use. I raised my chest, said: "Kill me if you want, anyways my father will help me take revenge. Also the Emperor, also Li Cheng Yin.......also A'Du, if A'Du is still alive, she'll chop off your head, and then send your skull to my father as a wine bowl."

        The assassin was coldly staring at me, I suddenly thought of another person, said: "Also I know a person with exceptional martial arts skills, if you kill me, I guarantee that in this lifetime he will not forgive you. He has better martial arts skills than you, very fast like lightning, he can cut your head off at any time, you just wait!"

        This assassin did not get swayed by my words, still moved his sword. I sighed, eating until one's full before death is still considered dying without regrets, however unfortunately before death I still didn't know the whereabouts of A'Du.

        Hearing me sigh, the assassin asked: "Do you have any last words?"
  
        "No last words." I couldn't help but sigh, "Kill me quickly if you want to kill me."

        The assassin's ice cold eyes did not show any expressions, said: "You are willing to die for your husband, affectionate and righteous woman, don't worry, I will do it very quickly."

        I couldn't help but shouted: "Who said I was dying for my husband?! There's a big difference! You tried to seize the Emperor, he is not my husband! As for my husband........I owe him, so I am doing this to give back to him."

        This assassin moved his wrist as if he was about to take out his long sword, I suddenly shouted: "Wait."
  
         The assassin was coldly staring at me, I said: "I will have to die anyways, can you remove the cloth and allow me to see what you look like? Even after death, I don't want to turn into a ghost that doesn't know who had killed me."

        I was just talking nonsense, the assassin seemed impatient, moving his sword again. I shouted: "Wait! Before facing my death, can you let me use the flute to play a song? We Western Liang people, if we don't get a chance to play a song before death, then we would not be able to be reincarnated in the future."
 
        I did not expect for him to believe my nonsense, he suddenly nodded his head.
  
        My mind was in a disordered state, couldn't think of any idea of how to escape, I could only delay some time, I was pretending to search for the flute in my sleeves, I suddenly pulled out something in my sleeves, and sprinkled it onto the assassin's face. The item I took out was blush powder, the light powder being blown by the wind towards the assassin's face. The blush powder had an odd scent, the assassin must have thought it was some kind of poisonous powder, the moment he waved his hand, the gush of wind created by his sleeve have already blown the powder far away. Don't mention about non-poisonous drugs, even any type of poison wouldn't be able to touch his body. However I took advantage of the situation, grabbed an arrowhead and shot it to the sky, creating a sharp whistle sound.

        However I wasn't deceiving him, I really know someone who have exceptional martial arts skills, although I don't remember how we've met. He gave me an arrowhead, I only used it once to save A'Du. Right now I am in a dangerous situation, of course I have to use it, to allow him to rescue me.

        It's been a long time since I had last seen Gu Jian, not sure if he would be able to rush here, I was so anxious that my vest was soaked in sweat, however the assassin did not pay much attention to the arrowhead shot into the sky, but rather he reached out his hand to grab my belt, lifting my whole body. Although I didn't have a plump body, however I am still a person, the assassin was lifting me as if I was a baby. He exerted his strength in his left hand, suddenly tossing me into the distance.

        I was like a kite with a thread that was about to snap, drawing an arc in the sky, I kept on falling without any control, I was flustered that I wanted to grab something, however there was only wind. Before I was able to react, a 'plop' sound can be heard, ice cold water rushing through, apparently the assassin had tossed me into the river.

Note:
[1]黄耆 Astragalus- type of plant commonly used in food

<Chapter 20                                                                                                                 Chapter 22>

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 20

        Wang Da Niang clapped her hands while smiling: "This is good, this is really good! Originally I had wanted to invite Master An from the West using a large sum of money, to help me draw on the door for the Lantern Festival. Originally I wanted to draw a group of dancers, this drawing, even better than Master An's drawings!" Well of course, the Crown Prince have learned from a famous master since childhood, mastering the four arts, nothing is impossible, nothing that can't be highly perfected, naturally drawing better than any type of drawings that exists.

        Li Cheng Yin was proud of himself, looking at the drawing for a short moment, then grabbing the eyebrow dye, beside the drawing three words were written: 'Ink splashed door.' These three words were written with bold cursive calligraphy, although I don't understand calligraphy, I felt that it was out of the ordinary. Li Cheng Yin felt that the drawing wasn't complete, so he wrote small words below the drawing: 'The Capital Li Wu Lang,' then the eyebrow dye was tossed away, said: "Bring water to wash hand!" Wang Da Niang's eyes were smiling, brought the water for him to wash his hands. I was proud, although my father wasn't willing to marry me off to the Central Plains, however asides from his terrible horseback riding and fighting skills, my husband was quite talented.

         When we finished washing our hands, Wang Da Niang had told her people to cook some pastries for us to eat, suddenly she became suspicious, constantly looking at Li Cheng Yin from head to toe. I was scared that she would notice something, just as I was about to say something to him, suddenly a 'sou' sound can be heard from the back of the courtyard, unexpectedly it was fireworks soaring into the sky. These fireworks weren't the same as other fireworks, not only do they rise very high, but it also goes perfectly straight into the air, a silver white coloured arc was drawn into the black sky, accompanied by the sound of whistles, attracting the attention of people. The fireworks kept on rising until a 'bang' sound can be heard, bursting into enormous golden fireworks, radiating all four directions, revealing a black velvet-like night scene, exploding fragments of gold powder, half of the sky was reflecting a faint blue colour.

        Li Cheng Yin's expressions had completely changed, turned around and went straight to the back of the entertainment house. I didn't have time to ask him, just following him. His footsteps are quite fast, I actually couldn't follow up, we noticed something wasn't right when we got up to the corridor bridge, the courtyard was terribly quiet, a person dressed in all black was kneeling underneath the corridor bridge, their body was slowly leaking out blood like a strange small snake. Why is there a dead person here? I didn't have much time to overthink, shouted: "A'Du!" A'Du didn't respond back, I called out three times, usually A'Du would appear if I called out only once, could something have happened to A'Du?  My heart was beating uncontrollably, Li Cheng Yin had already kicked open the door of the room, we only left the room for about the same amount of time it takes to prepare two small cups of tea, originally this room was filled with fragrant scent, now it was reeking of blood, all the dead bodies lying on the ground were men dressed in black. Li Cheng Yin eagerly turned around the screen, the curtain that was covering the screen was teared apart, it was evident that a fight had happened. The couch was overturned, the pillar on the side had quite a few sword scars, bloodstains were splashed everywhere, there were a lot of dead people here. There was a person dressed in black gasping for breath, Li Cheng Yin went over there to support him, his face was covered with blood, eyes were wide opened, his collarbone was exposed, arm was chopped in half, being able to survive was a miracle. Li Cheng Yin said with a stern voice: "Where's the Emperor?" This person didn't have a right arm, he used his left hand to grab onto Li Cheng Yin's chest, grabbing very tightly, he said while gasping for air: "The Emperor.......Emperor....." "Who did this? Where's the Emperor?" "Masked....Masked assassin......Assassin has exceptional martial arts skills......I can't do anything....." He used all his strength to point at the window that was opened, the expression in his eyes gradually became disorganized: ".....Save the Emperor....Emperor....." Li Cheng Yin had wanted to ask more questions, his fingers gradually loosened, in the end he perished in the bloodbath, motionless.

        Li Cheng Yin lifted his head to look at me, his eyes were bloodshot, his body was also covered in blood, the surrounding area was filled with dead bodies, I was very scared. We had only left for a short period of time, the assassin was able to kill so many people in such a short period time, but also these people are the best fighters among the imperial guards, a nobleman in disguise would bring the best bodyguards with him. Right now all of them are dead, this assassin had exceptional martial arts skills that were impossible to imagine. However Li Cheng Yin grabbed a sword, then stood up and jumped out of the window.
 
         I shouted out: "A'Du!" I don't know where A'Du had went, thinking about the situation last time, I was very worried about A'Du's safety.  I was also worried about Li Cheng Yin, the assassin had exceptional martial arts skills, killing the both of us would be an easy task. I grabbed a sword in the bloodbath, jumped out of the window, my mind was only wanting to kill, I will risk my life to kill the assassin.
  
         There was a very small courtyard at the back, piles of stones were in the middle, these stones were brought from a distant place in the south, supporting the trees and flowers in the courtyard, right now the weather was very cold, trees without leaves. He suddenly stopped after jumping over the pile of stones, turned his hand pushing me behind him. Jumping pass the uneven pile of stones, I was staring blankly at the back of his head, naturally thinking about the encounter of the assassin from last time, he was also pushing me away like this, my heart felt sweet and sour, an indescribable feeling. I stood on my tiptoes looking over his shoulders, several people dressed in black were surrounding the masked person, these people dressed in black were highly skilled in martial arts, however it was evident that they were not the assassin's match, these people dressed in black are the best fighters among the imperial guards, they are hard to defeat although they were injured. This assassin was using one hand to hold the sword, while another hand to grasp onto a person, this person was the Emperor. Although the assassin used one hand to grasp onto the Emperor's wrist, another hand to grasp onto the sword, his swordsmanship was still rapid that it was incomparable, each strike would injure the people dressed in black. Through the moonlight, I could see traces of blood on the stones. At this moment, a loud rumbling sound like muffled thunder can be heard from afar. Suddenly this assassin pressed his sword against the Emperor's neck, everyone didn't dare to move, only staring blankly at him.

        Li Cheng Yin said: "Let go of him!" His voice was like the thunder, not at all loud and clear, however each word and pause can be heard.

        I don't know if it was rumbling with thunder, a muffled sound like the thunder can be heard from afar, stuffy and loud. I have never been this scared before, not scared because the entertainment house was filled dead people, also not scared of this demon-like assassin, but I was scared of not knowing what I was afraid of.

        The sound of thunder from afar was getting louder and louder, a moment later, only then I was able to hear that it wasn't the sound of thunder, but the sound of horse footsteps from all directions, the loudness of the noise seem as though it was hiding the sky and covering the earth, like waves of water flooding from all four sides of Ming Yu Fang, high waves and low waves rushing through. I've never heard such concentrated sound of horse footsteps, even when my father leads mass troops to the prairies to fight, the sound wouldn't be this massive. I could faintly hear people within Ming Yu Fang panicking, the entertainment house slightly swaying, dust particles on the wooden brackets falling down, the sound within the entertainment house gradually being covered by the sound of horse footsteps, endlessly rushing through like a horrific hurricane in the desert.

        The assassin did not say anything, but rather harshly pressing the sword against the Emperor, slowly stepping back.

        No one dared to act rashly, however the Emperor suddenly shouted: "Zeng Xian! Kill the assassin!" One of the people dressed in black was called Zeng Xian, this name I have heard before, he's one of the well-known commanders in the Shen Wu army, unrivaled martial arts skills, it was said that he has the ability to defeat a hundred people. Zeng Xian's shoulder was also bleeding, at this moment he slowly stepped forward, the assassin's sword was glittering like frost and snow, the bitter coldness by the Emperor's throat, the vest that I was wearing was soaked in cold sweat as I was worried. Li Cheng Yin suddenly smiled, said to the assassin: "Do you know who I am?" The assassin's face was covered by a cloth, only a pair of eyes can be seen, his eyes did not have any expressions, only coldly looking at Li Cheng Yin. "Right now the Shen Wu army have came to the rescue, outside is surrounded by iron barrels, if you continue to act stubborn, then arrows piercing through your heart can't be avoided. If you put down the sword, then I will allow you to survive." The assassin's gaze seemed as though he was hesitating. Li Cheng Yin said: "If you are still worried, you can use me as a hostage, when you feel it's safe, then you can release me."

        The palms of my hands were sweating, even the sword in my hand felt slippery. I stood out from behind: "If someone needs to be the hostage, then I will exchange myself as a hostage, anyways I am a weak woman, you wouldn't be afraid of me playing tricks on you."

       "When you feel that it is safe, then you can release me."
  
        Li Cheng Yin fiercely glared at me, I impolitely glared back at him. I understood his meaning, I also know this isn't something to be played, however the situation right now, telling me to helplessly see him being taken as a hostage, I cannot allow that to happen.

        The assassin still didn't say anything, only coldly grasping onto the sword, Zeng Xian was waiting for someone, didn't dare to force the assassin too much as both sides were deadlocked.
 
        Li Cheng Yin stood there motionless, the loudness of the noise from the outside have calmed down, footsteps from the hallway can be heard, someone was about to come here. My vest was soaked in cold sweat, I was wondering whether these people were associated with the assassin. The sound of the footsteps was getting closer and closer, Li Cheng Yin suddenly reached out his hand to hold my hand, the palm of his hand was very warm. Surprisingly I have calmed down, maybe because I know that he was by my side, so what if it gets more dangerous? If I have to die then I will die! I suddenly felt confident. However a lot of people came in, wearing silver plated armors, seeing that both sides were deadlocked, inevitably they were startled, however soon after they have calmed down they kneeled down and bowed. His armor was making some noises, said: "Yin Wei have came late to save your Majesty, please forgive us."

        "Yes." Although the assassin's sharp sword was near the Emperor's neck, however his voice was calm: "Transmit the order to close all nine city gates."
 
        "Yes!"
 
        "Shen Wu army will help Yu Lin army of the Eastern Palace to close the city gates, please investigate if there are anyone associated with the assassin!"

        "Yes!"
  
        "Do not leak any information in order to prevent commoners from being alarmed."
  
        "Yes!"

        "Hurry and go!"
  
        "Yes!"

        Yin Wei bowed not too long ago, quickly went out. I could hear him mutter some words in the hallway, the sound of his footsteps were close yet far, several people went out as well. A moment later he came back inside, said: "Your Majesty please come back to the Eastern Palace to calm people's hearts, I will handle this matter."

        Li Cheng Yin shook his head, he stared at the assassin: "You let go of my father, I will exchange myself as a hostage." He was still holding my hand, I shouted out: "No! I will exchange myself as a hostage!"

         Li Cheng Yin turned around fiercely glaring at me: "Shut up!"

<Chapter 19                                                                                                               Chapter 21>

Friday, May 25, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 19

The Emperor said: "You two are a couple with the same mindset, doing things together." Li Cheng Yin's expression was the same, said: "May I dare to ask father, why have you come here?" I never thought that Li Cheng Yin would be this bold, since everyone came to the brothel, why should we reveal someone's intentions and make them feel embarrassed? I never thought that the Emperor would just laugh and said: "As a political figure we must not commit any mistakes, as the heir to the throne, you don't understand this?" "I will keep that in mind, however father have mentioned this before, the fall of the previous dynasty was due to the fact that a conspiracy was formed within court officials, some court officials have a large amount of supporters, therefore even a decree would be ineffective, also a swarm of locust[1] has caused great disaster, therefore causing the fall of the dynasty.  I don't understand anything that they had just said, they were at a brothel, but it seemed like they were in the court. I felt this wasn't interesting. The Emperor faintly smiled and said: "Since you know, what do you plan on doing?" "Reverse a verdict." The Emperor shook his head: "A case that was ten years ago, how can you reverse that? Also there isn't any human testimony and material evidence, how can you reverse the verdict?" Li Cheng Yin laughed: "There must be some kind of evidence left." The Emperor laughed and sighed: "You!" This moment reminded me of the times when I would throw tantrums because I really wanted to ride my little red horse, my father would have no other way out so he would just spoil me. Thinking of my father, my heart felt warm, it's only that I couldn't understanding any these two people were talking about. Not a moment later, clattered footsteps can be heard, a dancer was knocking on the door, urgently calling me: "Liang Gong Zi! Liang Gong Zi!" The Emperor and Li Cheng Yin were both staring at me, I hurriedly stood up: "What happened?" "Someone burst into Ming Yu Fang, tied up You Niang, saying that You Niang owed them money, and wanted to take You Niang away!" The moment I heard that, I was worried: "Hurry and take me there to see!" Li Cheng Yin pulled my arm: "I will come with you!" I turned around to look at the Emperor, quietly said: "Stay here with the Emperor!" The Emperor nodded his head: "You can go, I brought some people with me." Li Cheng Yin and I ran through the corridor bridge to the first floor of the entertainment house, only Wang Da Niang's sharp voice can be heard: "You want to take someone away? Not that easy!" "Money borrowed must be returned, that's the right thing to do!" That person saying that was a fat person, born with a plump body, a mustache, having eyebrows of a thief and the eyes of a rat, you can tell by his appearance that he was not a good person. The moment I saw him, I was angry: "Sun Er, why is it you again?!" Speaking of Sun Er, I know that person. Sun Er is a money lender, one time I saw him forced a widow and an orphan to pay back money, I couldn't bear to see that so I fought with him, beating him up so badly, ever since then he would act humble and not harsh in front of me. Sun Er blinked his eyes until he could finally recognize me: "Liang Gong Zi..........You are dressed like this.......Ha Ha Ha Ha......." I completely had forgotten that I was still wearing women's clothing, I impolitely stomped my foot on the stool, I tucked the corner of my skirt to the waist: "What? You want to fight? Even if I am dressed as a woman, I could still win you!" Sun Er was scared, putting a smile on his face: "I do not dare. I am just here to take the money back. Liang Gong Zi, money borrowed must be returned, this is the right thing to do. Firstly You Niang is not an orphan, secondly she is not a widow, thirdly she is not sick, the money she borrowed, don't you think she should pay it back?" I asked You Niang: "Why did you borrow his money?" You Niang really was an honest person, said: "Did I ever borrowed his money? It was a married couple from my hometown that wanted to open a business in the Capital, however the wife got sick, going to the physician and taking medicine, in the end the wife had passed away and funeral arrangements were made, then I went to seek Sun Er and borrowed money from him. Sun Er had said that they didn't have any properties or business, so he didn't dare to ask them for the money. I decided to be the guarantor for the debt because my fellow villager didn't have any family members at the Capital. Right now my fellow villager took the money and went back to his hometown, this Sun Er came asking me for the money." Hearing that made me angry: "What kind of fellow villager is that? Not able to pay back the money and getting you involved......" Sun Er took out the receipt of the debt: "Liang Gong Zi, if she was an orphan or a widow, then I would've let this go. Money must be paid back even if it involves murder and arson......Li Cheng Yin was already laughing behind me, Sun Er jumped up: "Who's uttering nonsense?" "What did you say?" Li Cheng Yin's expression had changed, I couldn't even pull him, Crown Prince don't act on an impulse.

        Sun Er glanced at Li Cheng Yin, then bowed to me: "Liang Gong Zi, if the money isn't paid back today, then we will have to offend you." "You should ask the fellow villager for the money back." "She is the guarantor of the debt, you should go find the fellow villager and ask for the money back." Li Cheng Yin laughed coldly: "The book of laws stated that unless the person that borrowed the money is dead or ran away or unable to repay the money, then you are allowed to ask the guarantor for the money." Sun Er never thought that Li Cheng Yin would know about the book of laws, he blinked his eyes while saying: "Didn't the fellow villager ran away?" "Who said they ran away, the fellow villager just went back home, you knew where they are, why don't you ask them for the money, why cause trouble for the guarantor?" "How would I know where that person had went?......" Li Cheng Yin slightly pushed You Niang: "Where does your fellow villager live?" You Niang stuttered: "In a small town in Dingzhou county............ "  Li Cheng Yin said: "Now you know where is that person, go ask for the money back, don't cause any trouble here." Wang Da Niang said: "This lady is saying the right thing, go ask that person for the money, why cause trouble here at Ming Yu Fang? Hurry and go! Hurry and go!" She was saying that while pushing them out of the door, Sun Er and his people were pushed out of the door. Sun Er was outside stomping his feet and cursing, Wang Da Niang patted Li Cheng Yin's shoulder, excitedly said: "Good lady, helping me with this! You are You Niang's dancers? This month's tips I will give to you!" I was on the side laughing, Sun Er being defeated and just standing outside cursing, because he couldn't do anything else. I saw that he suddenly waved to his people and whispered something into their ears, I couldn't help but said: "Aiyo, not good, this Sun Er is planning on doing something dirty." "Lock the door! Lock the door!" Wang Da Niang hurriedly told her people to go lock the door: "Don't let them come back inside. Also those two Persian coloured glass lights, first take those lights down and then close the doors, tomorrow will be Lantern Festival, those lights are expensive, do not break them......." This side people were taking down the lights and closing the door, on the other side Sun Er and his people were trying to go back inside. Each of his people were holding onto a bamboo tube, not sure what was inside the bamboo tubes. When Wang Da Niang first saw it she was anxious, telling them to close the door, when the door was half closed, they poured out the things inside the bamboo tube, apparently the bamboo tubes had contained dirty water. Most of the dirty water were splashed onto the door, the people closing the door tried to dodge it, but most of them were splashed with dirty water, also Wang Da Niang's skirt was also splashed with dirty water, Wang Da Niang was so mad that she was cursing: "My new lace skirt, I just wore it not too long ago, now splashed by dirty water........" Wang Da Niang had told her people to open the door and demand them to leave, Sun Er and his people were running away while looking at Wang Da Niang and making funny faces. Wang Da Niang was so angry that she was shouting, jumping, and cursing.

        You Niang walked up and lifted Wang Da Niang's skirt, carefully looking at it, said: "Wait it looks like it is ink, vinegar and water can wash it away. Take it off and I will help you wash it....." Wang Da Niang was grabbing You Niang's hand, as if she was muttering curse words: "These rascals, I will kill them if I see them again........" Saying that while telling people to wash the door. They tried to wipe clean the door, however seeing that the ink can't be wiped, Wang Da Niang got even more angry. I suddenly thought of an idea, telling the lady beside me: "Take out the red dye and the eyebrow dye." You Niang looked at my face, laughing while saying: "Liang Gong Zi's disguise as a woman is quite charming, even without makeup, you can defeat the ladies in Ming Yu Fang." I laughed while pulling Li Cheng Yin: "Here's someone that is much prettier than me, use the items to draw!" Li Cheng Yin was angry, shaking off my hand, the lady had already brought the red dye and eyebrow dye, I placed them into his hand and said: "Draw!" Li Cheng Yin glared at me and said: "What do I draw?" "Last time you used the mosquito blood on Se Se's silk fan, didn't you use the mosquito blood to draw a butterfly? Since you have the skills to draw a butterfly, then you will be able to draw something on the door." I saw that he was unwilling, so I said: "If you are unwilling to draw on the door, then I will shout out the real identity of the guest!" Li Cheng Yin glared at me: "You dare?!" I opened my mouth and shouted: "Everyone go to the back and see the Emp......" My mouth was covered by Li Cheng Yin when I was about to shout out the last word. He didn't use an ink brush, immediately using his finger to scratch some red dye, drawing a big circle on the door, and then filling the circle with the red dye. He grabbed the eyebrow dye, drawing on top of the ink, I rarely saw Li Cheng Yin draw, especially using his fingers to draw, the surrounding people were astonished, I was extremely curious. I was only able to see his fingers constantly moving, without the need of an ink brush, gradually drawing the outline of the drawing, then slowly filling the drawing with the dye. The surrounding people couldn't help, but to hold their breaths and watch him calmly draw.

        In the end he finally had finished drawing, at one glance, wow! The splash of ink had became a drawing of mountains, water mists exposing a range of mountains, a rising sun behind the mountains. This was a magnificent painting of the mountains and rivers.

Notes:
[1] 蝗 Locust- short horned grasshoppers, which tends to wipe out vegetation from large areas

<Chapter 18                                                                                                              Chapter 20>

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 18

       I quickly covered his mouth: "Lower your voice!" At this moment Yong Niang knew that Li Cheng Yin came, she was worried that I will argue with Li Cheng Yin again, so she went into the palace hall. The moment she peeked inside, she saw that I was clinging onto Li Cheng Yin like a crab, even our clothes were a mess, also I was covering his mouth, because Li Cheng Yin was lifting me from my bed, both of his hands were on my waist.........I was like a monkey climbing onto a tree, anyways our postures were quite ambiguous, making it quite suspicious......The moment she saw us, she was so shocked that she quickly disappeared.
    
        I was so angry, last time it was A'Du, now it was Yong Niang, why do they always come in during these types of moments?
  
        Li Cheng Yin was quite enthusiastic: "Hurry and get up, I prepared clothes for you. There is no better chance to go out than to go out on the day of the Lantern Festival." I thought him and Zhao Liang Di had already reconciled, so I forgot about this, never have I thought that he would still remember what I had said before.
 
        He really did prepare a large bag of new clothes, I have never seen Li Cheng Yin wear ordinary people's clothing, so I felt there was an indescribable awkwardness. However it doesn't look that bad, it's just that this is not what he usually wears. "Do you want to wear a fake mustache?" He excitedly took out the fake mustache from his bag: "This way no one will be able to recognize us." "Do you want to wear black clothing?" He excitedly took out some black clothing for me to see: "That way flying onto rooftops would not be a problem." "Do you want to bring some narcotic drugs?" He excitedly took out the drugs from his bag for me to see: "This way it would not be a problem to overturn a few people.".........I cannot deal with this, Crown Prince, you are going to a brothel, not going out to set a fire and kill people.......I couldn't help but said: "Just bring enough money." I haven't finished talking, Li Cheng Yin took out a pile of gold money from his bag, this can buy the whole Ming Yu Fang.

        I put on men's clothes, afterwards Li Cheng Yin kept on laughing, when I threatened him that if he keeps on laughing then I wouldn't bring him there, he finally restrained himself from laughing.

        When I was about to tell A'Du to come with us, Li Cheng Yin didn't want to bring her. I said: "If A'Du is not by my side, I wouldn't get used to it." Li Cheng Yin's facial expression has changed, said: "It's enough to have me by your side." "But what if......." "You don't believe that I can protect you?" I sighed, last time who was the one that got stabbed by the assassin, stabbed to the point that he was hovering between life and death, almost not able to survive........However thinking about that moment made me felt guilty, so I never mentioned it again. I secretly told A'Du using hand gestures, A'Du understood what I had meant, she will follow us closely.

        Li Cheng Yin and I left Eastern Palace and disappeared without a trace. Yong Niang thought that Li Cheng Yin and I were still in the palace hall, also no one saw us leaving. I was quite happy because I get to go out of the palace and have fun, even if this time there was a Li Cheng Yin, I was still quite happy.
  
        After leaving the Eastern Palace, we discovered that it was raining. Raindrops were dripping down our faces, ice cold seeping into our bones. I couldn't help but worry that if it rains heavily, then all the lanterns would be extinguished. Last year it was raining heavily, although the shops on the street were still hanging the lanterns, however it wasn't as bright as the moon, it would've been more fascinating if the lanterns were still lit on.
  
        The flagstones on the ground were quickly being moistened by the rain, the horse steps were creating sharp sounds. All the leaves on the willow trees on both sides of the street had all fallen to the ground, the branches were like strips of messy hair, covering the shops on both side of the street, inside the shops faint yellow lights were lit on, the street that was not to far away were hanging a variety of lanterns. Tomorrow will be the Lantern Festival, the restaurants will be packed with people, the carts on the street will be like water flowing in and flowing out. The Capital will be bustling with noises and excitement compared to before the Lantern Festival.
  
        We got off the horse as soon as we had arrived in front of Ming Yu Fang, a young men pulled the horse's rein, helped us bring the horse to the back stable.
 
        That night Ming Yu Fang was especially bustling with noises and excitement, upstairs and downstairs were filled with people. Our bodies were both half soaked in water, the moment Wang Da Niang saw me, she was so happy that she was unable to contain her happiness, she was about to shout out, fortunately I stopped her: "Da Niang, help us get a room to change our clothes, it is this young man's first time here, a little shy." Wang Da Niang saw Li Cheng Yin's appearance, her eyes were very sharp, as soon as she saw the pearl on Li Cheng Yin's hat, her eyes were smiling too: "Of course of course, two young men come this way." When I was about to go upstairs, I asked Wang Da Niang: "Where Yue Niang?" "There was a guest that just came, so Yue Niang went to play some songs for that guest." I felt that was quite rare, last time when she was suffering from lovesickness, even though I am her friend, she only played two songs for me, her expressions were as if she was dispirited. Yue Niang was not only famous in Ming Yu Fang, but also famous in the Capital, even if it was the usual high officials, she wouldn't act pretentious towards them, even the last time when Pei Zhao came, she didn't take him seriously. I couldn't help but curiously asked: "Which guest is it to have this type of ability?" "Who else?" Wang Da Niang's eyes were smiling: "It was that guest from last time, making Yue Niang constantly think about him, he came again." Oh?!

        I was very curious, pulling Wang Da Niang with me to go see. Wang Da Niang seemed to be distressed: "This......guest is drinking wine in the room upstairs......so we can't break any rules....." I tried all methods, but Wang Da Niang wouldn't allow me. She's been doing business here for a long time, so she doesn't want to damage the reputation of Ming Yu Fang. She treated us very politely, giving us one of the bigger rooms in Ming Yu Fang, also giving us two sets of clothing, telling two servants to help us change into those clothing, then she went out to prepare our feast.
  
        I was scared that they will know that I am a woman disguised as a man, so when Wang Da Niang left, I forced the two servants to leave, changing the clothes by myself. Li Cheng Yin quietly asked me: "What do you plan on doing?" I foolishly smiled at him: "What do you mean what do I plan on doing?" "Don't pretend to act stupid, I know you want to go and see who is that guest!" "Of course! Yue Niang is my sworn sister, what will happen if she gets tricked by a bad man? I must go and see!" Li Cheng Yin said: "Do you even understand what is considered a bad man?" What do you mean I don't understand? Of course I know!

        I pointed at his nose: "You think I don't know?! Men like you are bad men!" Li Cheng Yin's expression was hard to look at: "Then who is a good man?" Of course someone like my father would be considered a good man, however if I mentioned my father, he would definitely continue to bicker with me, so I thought of an idea and said: "Someone like the Emperor would be considered a good man." Li Cheng Yin's expression were even harder to look at, as if there was anger building inside him but he can't express it, however he cannot say that his own father was not a good man, so he stopped arguing.
  
         I brought him outside of the room, walking through the hallway, seeing if anyone was nearby, then I pulled him into another room.
  
        The room did not have any lights on, it was pitch-black, five fingers cannot be seen even you reach out your hand. I reached out to grab Li Cheng Yin's belt to tie and lock the door.

   The moment I wrapped my arms around Li Cheng Yin, his body suddenly froze, however he didn't push me away, allowing me to touch him everywhere. However I searched his body, but I couldn't find the item I was looking for, he finally couldn't help to but to ask me: "What are you doing?" "Sh! Didn't you bring some fire wool? Take it out and let me use it." Li Cheng Yin took out the fire wool and placed it in my hand, apparently angry at me, however he was always angry whenever he was with me, so I didn't really care, I lit the candle on the table using the fire wool, then said: "I will disguise myself to go and look at Yue Niang's guest." Li Cheng Yin said: "I want to go too!" I opened the chest, taking out something while telling him: "You can't go!" "How come you can go, but I can't go?!" I took out the blush powder and placed on the table, and then I smiled at him: "I will dress as a woman, are you able to go?" Li Cheng Yin suddenly felt deflated, however the moment I sat in front of the mirror feeling confident that he wouldn't go, Li Cheng Yin suddenly said: "I will also disguise myself as a woman and go!" I 'bang' fell from the bed to the ground.
       
        I had hurted my butt. Li Cheng Yin pulled me up, however my butt was still in pain.

        Li Cheng Yin said: "Anyways I want to be with you." I was speechless: "I want to go to see that man, why are you going?" "Didn't you say that Yue Niang has a beautiful appearance that captivates everyone?......" I was so irritated that I wanted to spit out blood, I knew that Li Cheng Yin was a rascal, never thought that he would be this much of a rascal, just to see Yue Niang's beautiful appearance, having this kind of determination, even not hesitant about disguising himself as a woman. If he dies with some kind of disease, he will still act this way even if he's a ghost. I glared at him: "Fine, come here!" "What are you doing?" I was staring at the mirror and laughing: "Of course helping you put some makeup!" You don't have to say anything, Li Cheng Yin's handsome face would still look good as a woman.

        I helped him comb his hair, put some makeup, placed the hairpin in his hair, then I searched the chest to look for a piece of clothing for him to wear. I looked into the mirror to compare, he looked even more prettier than me!
  
       Who said he can have such soft and tender skin, the moment he had makeup on, his handsome face became beautiful like a pampered young lady.
  
       The only thing lacking was that he was too tall to disguise as a woman, not convincing enough to disguise as a seductive woman, however there was enough to see. When we went downstairs, there were some guests looking at us and waving their hands, assuming that we were the ladies that work here. I put on a fake smile, quickly going to the back door, suddenly there was a drunk guest blocking our way, laughing and grabbing my shoulder: "Young lady, come and sit down!" His breath was filled with alcohol smell, making me feel dizzy, I haven't react to it yet, Li Cheng Yin already had slapped him. That person became foolish after that slap, I smiled: "There's.....There's a mosquito...." After that I pulled Li Cheng Yin and we ran quickly.

        We kept on running to the back, then we heard someone shouting from the front: "Ah! Suddenly someone dared to hit me......." In the front there was a guest that was shouting and making a lot of noise, however someone will eventually calm them down. The back of the entertainment house was much more quiet, although the front of the entertainment house have a corridor bridge connected, but now it is used to entertain guests, the sound of music and people talking can be heard through the window. The sound of the rain was soft, accompanying the sound of the music coming from the entertainment house. The courtyard was quiet, the flowers and the trees were scattered, however the flowers have not grown, only dark tree branches can be seen. I ran through the corridor bridge, pulling Li Cheng Yin with me, I felt that it was quite fascinating. Both of our clothes were dragging on the floor, only the sound of the hairpins can be heard. From far away the lanterns were lit on, a hazy red light was illuminated, it seemed very close but yet very far. I felt like I was pulling a stranger's hand, I think this was the first time I had held Li Cheng Yin's hand, I don't know why my ears were very warm. His hand was soft, and warm, grasping onto my fingers. I just didn't dare to look back at him, I also didn't know why I was scared to do that. Fortunately the corridor bridge was short, not a moment later I pulled Li Cheng Yin to a room.
 
Image result for ancient screen        The way this room was decorated was very refined, red candles, a scent of the fragrant filling up the entire room, a red rug was laid on the floor, stepping on the rug was like stepping onto snow as it was very soft. I know that this will be the place where Yue Niang will entertain that guest, so I held my breath and quietly walked for two steps. Through the screen, we could see the wealthy guest sitting there and Yue Niang accompanying him, playing the pipa while singing a song. However half of the screen was covered by the curtain, so we couldn't see the guest clearly.
  
          At this moment someone's footsteps can be heard, scaring me as I thought it was the drunk person chasing us, it was You Niang and the other dancers. You Niang was surprised the moment she saw me and Li Cheng Yin, I quickly pulled her sleeves, lowered my voice and said: "You Niang, it's me!" You Niang fell back a few steps, a moment later she laughed and said: "Liang Gong Zi how come you are dressed like this, I almost couldn't recognize you." After she looked at Li Cheng Yin who was behind me, said: "Who is this lady, I haven't seen her before." I laughed and said: "I heard Yue Niang's guest had came, I came to see." You Niang laughed and said: "I see." I whispered a few words into her ears, before her expressions weren't that great, however I said: "We are just here to see and then we will leave, I promise that I won't cause any trouble." In Ming Yu Fang, besides Yue Niang, I was close with You Niang, she has a gentle personality, I couldn't help but to annoy and persuade her, she finally allowed us. I excitedly asked Li Cheng Yin: "Can you dance?" Li Cheng Yin must have wanted to spit out blood, however he just asked me: "What kind of dance?" "Singing while dancing." I was only waiting for him to say that he couldn't do it, then I can throw him aside, never have I thought that he would say these two words: "I can!" I was foolish! I was really foolish! He is the Crown Prince, every year of the third month, there is a ritual ceremony that requires the Crown Prince to sing while dancing, I was really foolish.
  
        I didn't give up: "This is women's type of singing and dancing." "I've seen this a hundred times, it's the same thing." Fine......since it turned out this way, then we will be together.
  
        The sound of Yue Niang's pipa has finally stopped, inside the room there were other people playing different types of instruments.
  
        I sighed deeply, I took the fan that You Niang gave me, together with Li Cheng Yin, we followed the dancers.
  
        At this moment Yue Niang had finally opened her voice, sang the first verse: "Ruler like the heavenly moon......." Yue Niang's voice was very beautiful......beautiful like a pearl resembling a jade........My heart was beating very fast, finally I was able to see what that guest had looked like, dancing while feeling excited and curious at the same time............The dancers were smiling while spinning around, Li Cheng Yin and I also did the same thing as the dancers, at the same time all the dancers had lifted the fan away from their faces, it's only that the moment I had lifted the fan, I was shocked.
  
        I was really shocked.
  
        Not only was I shocked.
  
        Li Cheng Yin must have been shocked too, the other dancers were dancing, however we just froze there.

        I recognized this guest, not only me, but Li Cheng Yin also recognized him.
  
        Not only do we recognize........Oh God........Someone dig a hole for us to hide inside.......Emperor........
  
        The dancers beside us were dancing to the music, their skirts were like snow swirling around. However Li Cheng Yin and I just stood there, You Niang was giving me eye signals. I pinched myself, and then I pinched Li Cheng Yin......Is this a dream? This must be a dream!

        Your Majesty.....Emperor.......Why is it you? How can you do this to us?.......I want to dig a hole and hide.........Fortunately the Emperor was worthy to be called the Emperor, because when he saw us froze there, he just drank his cup of tea as if nothing had happened.
  
        Li Cheng Yin was the first to wake up to reality, pulled my sleeves, and then followed the dancers' steps. This song was especially fast, so dancing to this was very tiring. The moment I turned around, Yue Niang had recognized me, her eyes were wide open, glaring at me, I know that she was scared that I would mess up in front of the guest.

        The first song had ended, Yue Niang stood up and smiled, when she was about to say something, the guest had already said faintly: "This dance is not bad." Yue Niang said: "Why don't we allow the dancers to rest, I will play some songs for you."
 
        The guest nodded his head: "Not bad."

        Yue Niang sighed with relief, the guest reached out his finger and pointed: "Tell those two dancers to stay."
  
        The guest first pointed at Li Cheng Yin, then pointed at me. I predict that Yue Niang wanted to pass out at that moment, even her smile was forced: "Guest........why do you want them to stay?"
      
       "Their dancing skills are extraordinary, letting them stay to pour some wine for me." No one would dare to not listen to the guest. Yue Niang suspiciously looked at me, I suspiciously looked at Li Cheng Yin, Li Cheng Yin suspiciously looked at the Emperor, and the Emperor..... suspiciously looked at us.
 
        Everyone had left including all the people that were playing the instruments. There were only four people remaining in the room, suspiciously looking at each other.
  
        In the end, the guest had said: "Yue Niang, go look and see what's there to eat." At this moment Yue Niang was worried, looking at me, looking at the guest. Seeing that the guest was indifferent, and I was winking at her, Yue Niang didn't know what I had meant, she was also scared that the guest would know, so she quickly bowed and left.
 
        I had kneeled down to the ground, not because I was scared, but I was just tired, having to use all my strength in the dance, You Niang's dancers are famous dancers, having to follow their beat was tiring.
  
        Li Cheng Yin and I kneeled down, the atmosphere of the room had an indescribable strangeness. 

        Would I be punished to copy books again? Just thinking about it made me feel distressed, this time I must be in big trouble, I brought the Crown Prince to the brothel, being caught by the Emperor, if I have to copy books for thirty times, I will probably die from copying books.
 
        However I suddenly thought of something, the Emperor had also came to the brothel, so all of us came to the brothel, so he probably wouldn't punish me by making me copy books.
 
        When I was in my own thoughts, finally the Emperor had said something, he asked: "Yin Er, why did you come here?" I looked at the Li Cheng Yin that was disguised as a woman, the question that the Emperor had asked was quite tricky to answer, if Li Cheng Yin decides to betray me, then I would be finished.
 
        Fortunately, Li Cheng Yin had confidently answered: "Just curious, so I came here to see." The Emperor pointed at me, asked: "What about her?" Li Cheng Yin confidently answered: "She's also curious, so I brought her with me to see." So loyal! I really wanted to pat Li Cheng Yin's shoulder, such a loyal person! With such loyalty, I will definitely repay him for this favour.

<Chapter 17                                                                                                              Chapter 19>

Saturday, May 19, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 17

I've been following updates on the drama adaptation and it's been said that the drama will be 30 episodes and it will air sometime this year. I will try my best to finish the translations before the drama airs. They recently released some drama stills and an extended trailer which can be found here. However there are a lot of spoilers so you've been warned!! For those that want to watch it just make sure the cc button is on for the english subtitles. 

...............................................

Why do men always have this type of behaviour?

        I was not willing: "Yesterday you kissed me so many times, I don't owe you anything." Li Cheng Yin pulled apart his clothes showing me the scar on his stomach: "Then what about this? How are you going to repay me?" I looked at the scar, couldn't help but sighed: "The assassin stabbed you, it wasn't me that stabbed you." "However I saved your life! If I didn't push you away, the assassin would have hurt you instead." I don't have any other way to refuse because what he had said was the truth, however I was still reluctant: "What do you want then?" "Next time when you go to Ming Yu Fang, bring me with you."

       I was surprised: "You.....you....." I said in a very loud voice: "The Crown Prince wants to go to the brothel!"

        This time Li Cheng Yin quickly covered my mouth: "Stop shouting! Stop shouting! I only wanted to go see, I am not doing something bad!"
  
        "We were still locked in here, if we still can't get out, how can we go to Ming Yu Fang....." I sighed: "The Great Empress Dowager is not going to lock us here until the new year right? Li Cheng Yin said: "Don't worry, I've got a plan!" The plan that he came up with was a rotten idea, me pretending that I was sick.
        
        I can't pretend to be sick.

        Ever since being in the Capital, I was only sick once, telling me to pretend to be sick, no matter how hard I pretend, it won't be believable.
 
        Li Cheng Yin told me to pretend to faint, I don't think I can do that, the moment I tried I couldn't help but to laugh, after Li Cheng Yin got angry and said: "If you can't do it, then I will do it!" When he did pretended to faint, it was quite realistic, fainting on the bed motionless. I shouted out the window: "Someone come! The Crown Prince has fainted! Someone come......" After shouting for a few times, the doors of the palace hall were finally opened, a lot of people came in, the palace maids urgently went to get the imperial physician, even the Great Empress Dowager knew about it.
 
        The imperial physician examined his pulse, the result was that Li Cheng Yin's pulse wasn't stable.
  
        We were starving for this long, of course his pulse wasn't stable. However the Great Empress Dowager didn't think that way, she thought that Li Cheng Yin was exhausted, even though she was being disrespectful, she didn't want to lock us up ever again.
  
        I was brought back to the Eastern Palace, Li Cheng Yin wasn't that lucky, he had to constantly go to the temple, because tomorrow there is a ritual.  Even though I went back to the Eastern Palace, I was still busy because the Emperor wanted me to host the ceremony instead of Gao Gui Fei.
  
        The new year was the busiest time, very tiring, not fun at all.
  
        I was mostly worried about the ceremony, although there was Yong Niang and Gao Gui Fei helping me, however these unnecessary and elaborate writing took me a long time to memorize, also there were many feasts and ceremonies to attend.

        Every night I was so tired, I could fall asleep while just sitting there removing my makeup, also every morning when the sky was not even bright yet, Yong Niang would bring a group of people to drag me out of bed to get dressed. Before when there was an Empress, I didn't feel this way, however now I felt that my life was very bitter. Everyday I see countless people that I know and don't know, receiving respect from them, eating food without tasting the food, there were female officials saying lucky phrases, seeing boring dances, hearing other people talking endlessly.
  
        During feasting, the only day that was fun was the fifth of the first month of the lunar year, it's a day where married women visit their parents, also the imperial family had invited all the princesses to the feast. The main table consists of two of the Emperor's father's sisters, the next table had a few other princesses who are Li Cheng Yin's aunts. Princess Ping Nan greeted me with wine, because I am the Crown Princess, although I am younger, however there is no Empress in place, so I became the main female host of the feast.

  I drank some wine, I wanted to stand up, Yong Niang went over to support Princess Ping Nan, who is Pei Zhao's mother.
        
        Pei Zhao doesn't look like her at all.

       I started to look for Princess Luo Zi, I have never noticed her before, after all the imperial family had a lot of princesses, I don't see them often, in my eyes all the princesses look the same, all wearing long clothing. This time because of Pei Zhao, I cautiously pay attention to Princess Luo Xi, she's quite pretty, with graceful posture, even Princess Ping An and her looked quite alike. Yong Niang helped me find a person to write a three verse poem for me, then I memorized and recited it during the feast. Princess Luo Xi also recited a poem, there were a few words that I didn't recognize. Everyone was praising me saying that the poem that I had written was the best, Princess Luo Xi was second place, I felt that Princess Luo Xi was a women that most men likes, a descendant of the imperial family, gentle personality, multi-talented, matches well with Pei Zhao.
  
        I wasn't happy this new year, maybe because I was too tired, even I didn't see Li Cheng Yin for so many days, I heard him and Zhao Liang Di have reconciled again, like two people dripping more grease into honey. I wasn't excited for anything, only excited for the fifteenth of the first month of the lunar year as it was the Lantern Festival.
  
        What I like most about the Capital was the Lantern Festival there.
  
         Ten miles of lanterns, nine layers of watchtower gates, fireworks in all directions, seven star tiered tower, being happy together, to go and to return, peace: This was the Lantern Festival in the Capital. There were a few days left until the Lantern Festival, people were busily hanging the lanterns on the streets, these lanterns were very unique, different colour and design, with wonderful craftsmanship. Also all of the well-known fireworks that night would be happening at the top of the seven tiered tower because it was really tall and half of the Capital city would be able to see the fireworks. That night the four main gates of the Capital city will be opened so that people can go and see the lanterns. San Yin mountain is a place where people go to seek luck in marriage, it is said that the temple at San Yin mountain will bring marriage to people which are predestined by fate, however if unmarried men and women go to the temple and pray on the night of the Lantern Festival then it will not be effective. If a woman is already married, they should go with their husbands to go see the lanterns to pray for the new year. If a woman is not married but they have a true love, then this would be considered a private meeting between two lovers which are permitted based on ceremonial rites.

        Last year when it was the Lantern Festival, A'Du and I went to the San Yin mountain to look at lanterns, even losing our shoes. I heard that night there were thousands of shoes left behind, the people sweeping the mountain gave those shoes to the poor people, using a few big carts to carry the shoes.
 
        This year I decided that I will wear boots and use leather strings to tie them onto my legs, so that I wouldn't lose my shoes again. It will be crowded and lively, so I must go there and see!
  
        On the fourteenth of the first month of the lunar year, the feasting has finally came to an end, I finally don't have any duties, can go back to Eastern Palace and sleep, saving some strength for the Lantern Festival. However when I fell in a deep sleep, Yong Niang woke me up again.

        I yawned and asked her: "What happened now?" "There's a talisman found under Xu Bao Lin's bed, it is said that it is a witchcraft object, it has Zhao Liang Di's birth date written on it, right now Zhao Liang Di has taken hold of Xu Bao Lin, waiting outside of the palace hall, Crown Princess please deal with this." I was tired and angry: What's the big issue? A talisman and you're making a big fuss out of nothing, the new year is not over yet! Xu Bao Lin is not that foolish, also would this talisman be able to curse Zhao Liang Di to death? Zhao Liang Di is still alive and well!" Yong Niang told me: "Witchcraft is prohibited in the Imperial Palace, Crown Princess you must have not known, ten years ago Chen Zheng used witchcraft to curse the previous emperor, as a result was forced to commit suicide and the whole family was executed. When the country was first formed, Empress Wu had used witchcraft on Consort Xu, as a result she was demoted to the status of a commoner, even her son cannot be bestow with the title of a prince........" My head was hurting, I don't like it when Yong Niang talks about things that happened hundreds of years ago, I got up and let the palace maids help me get dressed. Yong Niang said: "Xu Bao Lin's witchcraft matter is strange, Crown Princess must be careful, and don't fall into a trap." I straightforwardly asked her: "What do you think I should do?" Yong Niang said: "Before you could've allowed the Empress to deal with this matter, however now there's no Empress, also right now is the lunar new year celebration, we should not deal with matters that will bring us misfortune. I think we should allow the Crown Prince to deal with this matter." I did not say anything, I felt that if I let Li Cheng Yin deal with this matter, Xu Bao Lin would be the person that will be punished.

        Zhao Liang Di is Li Cheng Yin's heart and the apple of his eyes, even not knowing the whole situation, he would definitely be angry, and then Xu Bao Lin would be in trouble. Xu Bao Lin was quite pitiful, Li Cheng Yin doesn't like her, last time when I visited her, she was crying, now that this type of matter had happened, she won't be able to give an explanation to defend herself. I thought and thought, I couldn't bear to do so.

        Yong Niang saw that I wasn't saying anything, said: " Crown Princess this is a complex situation, you should not get involved in this situation. I said in a loud voice: "What do you mean I should not get involved? Letting Li Cheng Yin deal with this matter, I will not allow that to happen!" Yong Niang wanted persuade me, I fixed my clothes and said: "Tell Zhao Liang Di and Xu Bao Lin's to come here." Every time when I give out a Crown Princess presence, Yong Niang would have no other way. Yong Niang knows all the palace rules, also she's a very well educated person, so she never disrespects me.

        Zhao Liang Di saw me, bowed out of respect, I politely told Yong Niang to help her get up, after I told her to sit down.
  
        Xu Bao Lin was still kneeling on the floor, her cheeks and eyes were red as if she just had cried.
  
        I asked left and right: "How come no one is helping Xu Bao Lin get up?" The palace maids do not dare to disobey me, hurriedly helped Xu Bao Lin get up. I started to talk nonsense: "Today's weather wasn't bad........Two of you came here to give new year greetings?" This phrase caused Zhao Liang Di's complexion to turn red and white.
  
        Based on the rules of the Eastern Palace, during the lunar celebrations they are suppose to wear special clothing and bow to me, however for the past three years Li Cheng Yin was afraid that I would mistreat Zhao Liang Di, so he never allows her to be alone with me, so this rule was abolished. As a result, Zhao Liang Di must have thought that I was mocking her. Actually I was just busy with the lunar year ceremonies, only able to go back to the Eastern Palace when the sky was dark, I don't have strength to argue with them.
  
        Yong Niang quietly told me, at that time I noticed that Zhao Liang Di's expressions were not good, I thought that it was because I was treating Xu Bao Lin to politely, so I comforted Xu Bao Lin with a few words, then went and take a look at the talisman.
  
        The talisman is an item that brings misfortune, so it was put on a tray, when the palace maid had brought the item, Yong Niang didn't allow me to grab the item. I looked at the birth date that was on the item, but I couldn't find any clues. I thought of a question and asked: "How did you suddenly remembered to go to Xu Bao Lin's place and search under her bed?" The moment I asked this question, Zhao Liang Di's expressions suddenly changed.
  
        It turned out Zhao Liang Di's pet was suddenly missing, the palace maids were searching everywhere, someone saw that the pet had went into Xu Bao Lin's courtyard, so Zhao Liang Di's palace maids went in and searched. Xu Bao Lin had said that she didn't see any pet, Zhao Liang Di's palace maids were not convinced, so they kept on searching, never thought that the pet was not found, but this witchcraft item was found.
  
        Zhao Liang Di said: "Crown Princess please investigate." I asked Xu Bao Lin: "Where did this item come from?" Xu Bao Lin kneeled again: "I don't know, Crown Princess please investigate." "Get up first." I don't like it when people constantly kneel down, then I told Zhao Liang Di: "There's always a reason for something to happen, Xu Bao Lin doesn't have any reason, why would she use witchcraft on you? I think this matter is not that simple........" Zhao Liang Di faintly said: "There's evidence, Crown Princess's words, are you planning to side with Xu Bao Lin?" She was saying it impolitely, with an aggressive gaze. When I was about to say something, Yong Niang had already said: "The Crown Princess just wanted to observe carefully, she is not trying to side with anyone, Zhao Liang Di please speak cautiously." Zhao Liang Di suddenly left her seat and bowed to me, said: "I will quietly wait for Crown Princess's investigation on this matter, only hoping that the truth will come to light, and then Crown Princess will give me an explanation." After she continued to say: "I will take my leave now." I didn't finish speaking, but she had turned and left abruptly.
  
        Yong Niang was angry, said: "How can she be so ridiculous?!" I understand Zhao Liang Di's dislike towards me, anyways I don't like her either.
  
        Xu Bao Lin was still kneeling there and looked at me. I sighed, and went over to help her get up, asked her: "Tell me what actually happened today." Xu Bao Lin was panicking, Yong Niang told someone to give a cup of tea to her, slowly she told me what had happened.
  
        Apparently Xu Bao Lin lives in a remote place, the past few days was the lunar new year celebration, they were bestows with items. These items weren't important to me and Zhao Liang Di, however to Xu Bao Lin these were rare items. Xu Bao Lin has a gentle personality, the two palace maids that I had sent to Xu Bao Lin weren't bad, Xu Bao Lin had shared the pastries with them. Items that were bestowed by the Emperor cannot be shared with anyone, so the doors of the courtyard were locked, preventing people from seeing.
 
        At that moment Zhao Liang Di's people suddenly came knocking on the door, they hurriedly put away the pastries and opened the door. Zhao Liang Di's people entered the courtyard and searched everywhere, Xu Bao Lin felt guilty, Zhao Liang Di's people were impolite, quickly argue back when they don't get along, Zhao Liang Di's people are the type of people to finish something once it has started, creating a mess in the room, never thought that the pet was not found, however there was a talisman found under Xu Bao Lin's bed. Zhao Liang Di's people went back and reported to her, Xu Bao Lin's two palace maids were detained. When Zhao Liang Di saw the talisman, her whole body was trembling with anger, brought Xu Bao Lin to see me. "I really don't know where that object had came from." Xu Bao Lin said with teary eyes: "Crown Princess please investigate this matter......" How can I investigate this? Each of them have their own side of the story, I am unable to investigate this, however this object obviously did not came out of nowhere. I asked Xu Bao Lin: "This object was underneath your bed, you don't have any idea who put it there?" Xu Bao Lin thought that I was questioning her, suddenly she kneeled down: "Crown Princess I know I am an unlucky person, however I don't strive for favoritism, I don't dare to curse Zhao Liang Di......." I could tell that she was scared, quickly said: "I don't mean this way, I just wanted to say that for someone to put this object under your bed without anyone noticing was not easy. You were at your place the whole day, also the two palace maids were with you, did you notice any suspicious people going to your place, or did you notice any clues? Hearing the words that I said, she slowly calmed down, thinking if there are any clues left behind.

       She thought for a long time, in the end she told me: "I couldn't think of any suspicious person....." Forget it, this Xu Bao Lin was just as clueless as I am.

        I used kind words to comfort her, also telling her to go back first.  Xu Bao Lin believe but also doubt the things I had said, I told her: "After some time has passed, the truth will come to light, there is nothing to be afraid of, we'll talk about this after the festival is over." Seeing that I was taking the matter seriously, she bowed to me and then left.

   Yong Niang asked me: "What plan do you have to find out who's the person behind this?" I yawned: "What plan would I have? I couldn't find anything in this matter." Yong Niang did not know whether to laugh or cry, asked me: "Crown Princess how are you going to explain this to Zhao Liang Di?" I rolled my eyes: "I didn't put the talisman under her bed, why do I have to explain to her?" Hearing the words I said, Yong Niang didn't know whether to laugh or cry, talking endlessly to me, I was tired, not a moment later, I had fell asleep.

        I fell into a deep sleep until someone lifted me up from my bed, I was still half asleep, although Yong Niang would frequently tell people to drag me out of bed, it would usually be carrying or supporting me with one hand, unlike this person who's rude.
  
        The moment I opened my eyes, Li Cheng Yin! Not only did he lifted me up, he also said: "You could still sleep?" Oh no oh no I forgot!

        Zhao Liang Di must have complained in front of him, so he came to interrogate me. I said in a loud voice: "Why can't I sleep?! I couldn't find anything in the investigation of Xu Bao Lin's matter, there's no use in questioning me!" "What happened to Xu Bao Lin?" He looked at me with his eyebrows wrinkled.
 
        Ah? He doesn't know! Zhao Liang Di didn't complained about it to him? I smiled: "Eh.....nothing nothing, why did you come here?" "Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival!" "I know." Nonsense, that's why I wanted to sleep the whole day today, so that I have some strength for tomorrow night, so I can play a game of solving riddles on lanterns.

        He looked at me expressionless, said: "Tomorrow I will go to Zhu Que Lou with my father to greet our people." "I know." Of course I know, every year during the Lantern Festival him and the Emperor would go there to wave to the people, hearing people chant 'long live the Emperor,' although it is to greet the people, but actually standing there for half of the night being blown by the cold wind, fortunately women in the imperial family don't have to go there, or else I will become an ice pole, becoming an ice pole was a small issue, however not being able to see the lanterns was a big issue. He glared at me with an angry expression: "Do you remember what you had promised me?"
  
        Why was he saying that, accompanying him is like accompanying a tiger, power is hard to fathom. This phrase was the truth, accompanying the Emperor's son is the same as accompanying a small tiger, as well as power that is hard to fathom, I can never guess what's in his mind, I can only ask him: "What did I promise you?" He raised his voice: "You must have completely forgotten! You promised to bring me to the brothel." How can he say that in such a loud voice?

<Chapter 16                                                                                                          Chapter 18>