Monday, October 29, 2018

Notice: Chapter 1-4

I've been notified that ch 1-4 is no longer on Suteki's blog, but there is a website that have copies of her translations. I've linked the website on my Translation page.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 25

I was swept by an invisible stream of air, A'Du's hand had just touched the corner of my skirt, I saw that Gu Jian wanted to grab hold of me, however he was swept along with the people holding the swords. The roof tiles of the temple were falling down, I don't know what object had hit my head, the pain at the back of my head made me lose consciousness instantly, sinking into complete darkness.

'Pu!' Heavy body entering into the water, surrounded by jade coloured water, like countless cold knives splitting open my skin. I gave up struggling, just letting myself sink into the bottom of the water, like a baby belonging to the mother, like a flower belonging to earth. This is the most calm place to return to, I already knew. "The river of forgetfulness, to forget a love......"........"A fox sitting on the sandy hill, sitting on the sandy hill, looking at the moonlight. Apparently it was not looking at the moonlight, it was waiting for the girl to return....." "It sounds horrible! Change to another song." "I can only sing this song......"......"For lifetimes, I want to forget you forever!"........ In my memories there was light flashing and flickering, like a thick fog gradually spreading out, revealing an illusory mirage. Suddenly, I could see myself.

        I could see myself sitting on the sandy hill, watching the sun slowly go down, my own heart gradually sinking. In the end, the sun finally disappeared, blocked by the sandy hill, unable to see it anymore. Heaven and earth being covered at night, the last bit of brightness cannot be seen.

        In despair, I threw away the jade pendant that was in my hands, got on the horse without looking back and left.
 
        Stinky shifu[1]! Bad shifu! The most annoying shifu! Even saying that he will be my matchmaker, helping me choose the most handsome man in the world! Misleading me to this place, causing me to wait here for three days three nights!
  
         A few days ago the Emperor of the Central Plains had sent a messenger to my father to propose a marriage, saying how the Crown Prince of the Central Plains was already seventeen years old and hoping that he can marry one of the Princesses of Western Liang

        Second oldest sister and third oldest sister wanted to go, I heard that Central Plains is good, eat well, wear well, have water everywhere, don't have to suffer from sandstorms. The messenger had said that because the Crown Princess will be the Empress of the Central Plains in the future, she must not be born from a concubine, so they hope that the princess would be the daughter of the main wife. I wasn't paying particular attention to what they were saying, however my mother was the only main wife and she has only given birth to one daughter, the rest are sons, this means I will be the only one that could get married. Second oldest sister and third oldest sister were envious, however I didn't want to go, what is so good about Western Liang? I have seen the Western Liang men before, those Western Liang merchants selling silk, each of them were weak, cannot even use a bow. I heard that the Crown Prince of Western Liang was raised in the palace since childhood, besides drawing and reciting poems, they don't know how to do anything else.

        Marrying a husband who can't even use a bow, this feels too wrong. I was angry for several days, my father said: "Since you don't want to marry the Crown Prince of the Central Plains, however I have to explain to them. If you have someone that you like, then I can marry you off. I can tell the Central Plains to select another princess, this way they can't say it's our fault." I am not even fifteen years old yet, all the Western Liang men treat me like their little sister, where can I find someone that I like?

        Making me worried.
 
        After Shifu knew, he patted his chest promising that he would help me find the most handsome man in the world, he said in Central Plains this is known as a blind date, a man and woman seeing each other in private. What can I even see in our first meeting, however right now I am in an urgent situation, I can only go to the blind date to prevent myself from marrying the Crown Prince of the Central Plains.

        Shifu told me the location of the blind date was at the highest sand hill outside of the city, even giving me a jade pendant, saying that the other jade pendant will be given to the man, helping me pair up with this person, telling me to carefully see if I like that person or not.

        As a result I was waiting for three days three nights on the sandy hill. Let's not talk about a man, even a male fox cannot be seen.
  
        So angry!

        I knew that Shifu was teasing me again, he always tease me just to make himself happy. Last time he tricked me saying that the river of forgetfulness was behind the Yan Zhi mountain, causing me to ride my little red horse, bringing dry food, walking there for ten days ten nights, climbed to the top of the Yan Zhi, however I could only see the grassland behind the mountain, don't talk about a river of forgetfulness, even a puddle cannot be seen. 

         It took more than twenty days to go back, I walked in a big circle around the mountains, almost getting myself lost, in the end I encountered a shepherd who helped me get back to the city. My mother thought that I was lost and wouldn't be able to go back, so she got sick. She cried and hugged me when I came back. My father was so angry that he locked me up for several days, not allowing me to go out. Afterwards I was so angry that I asked my Shifu, he said: "I say it, you believe it? You should know that there will always be some people that will trick you, you shouldn't just trust anyone. I am teaching you not to easily trust other people, or else you'll be at a disadvantage." I was so angry, but not to the point of spitting out blood.

        Why haven't I learned my lesson yet? I have been tricked by him many times, why am I still so foolish still getting tricked by him?
     
        Maybe I will never understand my Shifu's thoughts for a lifetime.
  
        I was so angry that I grabbed the horse rein and left, the horse kept on nibbling onto the grass. I kept on thinking that maybe I should just tell my father that I like Shifu, and allow my father to help us get engaged. Anyways Shifu has harmed me once, this time I will harm him once, so this is reasonable.

        I felt that this plan was good, so suddenly I was in a good mood, humming to a song while riding the horse to the city. "A fox sitting on the sandy hill, sitting on the sandy hill, looking at the moon. Apparently it was not looking at the moon, but waiting for the girl to return......I was happily singing until someone from behind called out: "Young lady, you've dropped something." I looked back, seeing a man riding a white horse.
 
        Shifu said, riding a white horse does not mean that they are a prince. It could also be the monk, Tang Seng [2], who was sent to travel to the Western Regions. However this person was not wearing a kasaya [3], he's wearing a white gown, I've never seen a person look so good in a white gown. I've seen Persian merchants wear white gowns, however they look like a honeydew melon, when this man wears it, he shines brightly like the moon in the sky.

        He's handsome, curved eyes and brows showing a smiling expression, his face was clear and fair like the best jade, his hair was tied in the style of Western Liang, his Western Liang language was spoken very fluently, however at one glance I could tell that he is from the Central Plains, the men from Western Liang do not have fair complexion. The way he rides the horse has a strange imposing manner, which I've only seen from my father when he's leading the army. The time when my father raised the sword, chanting together with the army, proudly looking at his own army, his own territory, his own son.

        This man was looking down at me as if he was the only king in the world.
  
        My heart was suddenly beating very fast, the expression in his eyes was like a tornado in the desert, sweeping everything. I felt like he has some sort of magic power, the moment he looked at me, my mind was blank.

        In his slender fingers was a jade pendant, which was the one that I had thrown away. He said: "This isn't the thing you have lost?" I became angry looking at the jade pendant, I said with a straight face: "This thing isn't mine." He said: "There's no one here, if this isn't yours then who is it?" I stretched out my arm: "Who said there was no one? There's also wind, sand, moon and stars......." He suddenly smiled: There's also you here." Suddenly my face began to feel very hot. Although I am still young, however I know that there is some sort of meaning in his words. I kind of regret going out of the city by myself, there is no one here, if he wants to make a move, I may not be able to beat him.

        I loudly said: "Do you know who I am? I am the ninth princess of Western Liang, my father is the King of Western Liang, my mother is the main wife, my grandfather is the most powerful Chanyu [4] of the Western Regions. If the vultures in the desert heard my grandfather's name, they wouldn't dare to fly down. If you dare to treat me impolitely, my father will tie you to a horse and let it step on you until you die." He slowly laughed, said: "How can a young lady be so frightening? Do you know who I am? I am Gu Wu Lang of the Central Plains, my father is a restaurant owner, my mother is a normal housewife, my grandfather is from a family that plants tea trees. Although they don't have a huge background, however if you tie me to a horse and allow it to step on me until I die, then Western Liang would not have good tea to drink." I glared at him, it's only been a few years since tea leaves were brought to Western Liang. In the eyes of the people of Western Liang, tea leaves are the best thing in the world. My father loves to drink the teas from the Central Plains, everyone in Western Liang loves tea, no one can survive a day without tea. If the things he said are true, then that would be very irritating.

        He was staring at me while smiling.
  
        While I was getting angry, I suddenly heard someone laughing from behind.
  
        I turned around to look, it was Shifu. I don't know where he had came from, looking at me while laughing.       

        I was angry and annoyed, said to him: "You still dare to come and see me?! You caused me to wait at the sand hill for three days three nights! Where is the most handsome man that you have found for me?" Shifu pointed at the person that was riding on the white horse, said: "It's him!" The person with the white horse was laughing, reached out his hand revealing not only one jade pendant, but a pair of jade pendant. He was holding onto the jade pendant and looking at us as if he was watching a good play.
  
     I was going to ride my horse back, not looking back at them, Shifu and Gu Wu Lang followed from behind with their horses, started talking after a moment of silence.

        Shifu said: "I thought that you weren't going to come." Gu Wu Lang said: "I've already received your letter from the pigeon, how can I not come? They seemed close, I just knew that Shifu and him are old friends. These two people were talking nonstop on the way back, Shifu kept talking about Western Liang to Gu Wu Lang, this Gu Wu Lang was listening very attentively. Each and every word that they were saying went into my ears, I still have to listen even if I don't want to hear it. These two people were talking about Western Liang customs, and then travelling merchants. I have never heard Shifu talk this much, making me feel bored listening to all this, can't help but to yawn. The shadows of the city walls can be seen at a distance, these were built with layers of huge bricks, layer by layer creating a city wall to a city gate tower. The magnificent city wall is like a continuous mountain range, the high city wall directly covering most of the sky, the closer you go, the city wall become higher. The Western regions have become desolated and distant, no such big city exists. The tribes of Western Liang used to live by the water grasses, until a hundred years ago a group of Chanyu decided to build this massive city wall, forming Western Liang.

         I slapped my little red horse to make it run faster, the bell by the horse's neck created a sharp and clear sound along with the bells of the camels from afar, pleasant to hear. There must be a group of travelers taking advantage of the cool night to hurry on with their journey, so that is why the city gate was opened the entire night. I was the first to rush to the city gate, the guards near the gate recognized me, calling out "ninth princess." From afar they tossed a string of grapes to me, these must be given to them by the travelers. Every time they would save the sweetest and biggest grapes for me.

Notes:
[1]师傅 shifu- teacher
[2]唐僧 Tang Seng- One of the main characters of the novel, Journey to the West. It is said that this character is based on a real historical figure called Xuanzang.
[3]袈裟 kasaya- robe worn by a Buddhist monk
[4]单于 chanyu- Han Dynasty name for chiefs of the Xiongnu

<Chapter 24                                                                                                                 Chapter 26>

Friday, September 21, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 24

        I could finally see Li Cheng Yin, although he was standing far away, however I could see him at one glance. Half of his body was leaning on the railing, he was wearing a beautiful jade coloured cover on the back, wind blowing the tassels of the cover and his sleeves, many people knelt down. I could also see the Emperor because the surrounding people were shouting out: "Long live the Emperor!" I have never felt so distant and irrelevant.

        I could see Zhao Liang Di, she was wearing ceremonial clothing, walking upstairs from the back of the gate tower. She did not reveal herself, however I could recognize her from the shadow reflected on the curtain. I could see that she was reaching out her hands to put a black coat on Li Cheng Yin's shoulders. The wind was very strong that the coat flipped over, the patterns on the coat which was made out of red and golden silk could be seen being reflected by the lights on the top. Li Cheng Yin turned around, it was too far so I couldn't see the expression on his face, maybe he was smiling at the beauty that was standing behind him.

        I have never went to the top of the Cheng Tian gate, or spend the Lantern Festival with Li Cheng Yin. I never knew that on the night of the Lantern Festival, he would always bring Zhao Liang Di to such a high place to watch the fireworks.

        A pair of couple, tonight was suppose to be a good day to spend as a couple.
  
        I thought that it would be different, I thought that everything that happened yesterday would change everything. Yesterday night when I was captured by the assassin, he once looked at me that way, he called my name, he used the arrow to swear an oath.

        All these actions made me thought that something would change, however only one day have passed, and he's standing there with another woman as if nothing had happened, enjoying the bustling night of the Lantern Festival, receiving greetings from the commoners.

        While my safety and my whereabouts were unknown, I am his wife.
 
        Someone called me: "Xiao Feng."
  
        I turned around, looked at Gu Jian in disappointment.
  
        He was staring at me, I slowly smiled at him, wanting to talk to him, however the moment I opened my mouth, cold wind went inside making me cough, my throat was already in pain, coughing made it even more painful as if my throat was about to split open. Coughing too much made my head hurt as if there were sharp rocks in my head and those rocks pricking my blood vessels, making it hard to breathe. I bent down coughing as if I was coughing something out of my body. I didn't feel that it was painful, it was just that my chest wasn't feeling well, maybe it was because I was cold, that's why I am sick now..........Being sick was supposed to feel this bad.
  
        Gu Jian helped me get up, however I stumbled over as I felt that something inside my body was about to rupture, silently coughing it out, my chest felt a bit better now.

        He lifted my face, I could hear my voice, I said: "It's not a big deal........" I could see the expression in his eyes was filled with pain. He suddenly lifted his hand to wipe my mouth.
    
         Through the lights, I saw the bloodstains on his fingers and also on his sleeves, little by little I realized these were fresh blood. My body had weakened, feeling dizzy, I knew that I wouldn't be able to stand up myself, the mouthful of blood was as if I had used my whole strength to spit it out. He hugged me, whispering into my ears: "Xiao Feng, just cry, just cry." I used my remaining strength to push him away: "Why should I cry? You purposely brought me here to see this, why should I cry? You can stop pretending now, why should I cry? You said that once I see all this, then you will let me go. I am leaving right now!" "Xiao Feng!" He rushed over wanting to support me with his hands, I was stumbling over, however I tried my best to stand up. I turned around and I stared coldly at him: "Don't touch me, and don't follow me or I will die right in front of you. Even if you have exceptional martial arts skills, you still can't prevent me from killing myself. You can prevent it once, but you can't prevent it forever. As long as you try to follow me, I can always think of a way to kill myself." He actually stood there, dared not to move one step forward, maybe because I sounded very determined.
     
        I don't know how far I went, all four directions were filled with people and lights that were bright and dazzling. I grabbed the collar of the leather fur coat as my body felt cold again, so cold that I was clenching my teeth. I know that I have a fever, my feet felt like it was stepping on sand, weak without any strength. I stood there weakly under the lanterns, surrounded by laughter, people coming and going. In the distant sky, fireworks were constantly being launched. On the night of the Lantern festival that was filled with excitement and laughter, where should I go?

        The world is so big, however there was no place for me.
  
         A'Du, A'Du, where are you? We'll go back to Western Liang, I miss Western Liang.

  In front of me was a lantern with a gold foil cutting of a beauty, the candle inside was very hot, the lantern kept on turning, the beauty was either sitting or standing, angry or happy....... I felt that everything was turning dark, the beauty on the lantern seemed to be Zhao Liang Di, slowly smiling at me: You think there is something different? You think you have a place in his heart? You think that once you are taking as hostage in place of his Majesty, then he will have some pity for you?.......

        I can only stand firmly by leaning on the tree. My hair was stuck on the rough tree barks creating a slight pain, however it felt comfortable.........because this slight pain would ease the pain in my chest. A'Du is not here, at the capital city I ended up being all alone. Where can I go? Going alone back to the Western Liang. If I can't arrive there by a month, then three months, half a year, one year. I want to go back to Western Liang.

        I looked up to look at the moon, this type of bright and pure white moonlight, gently shining on everyone. The capital city that was under the moonlight, bustling and peaceful, countless times under the moonlight, A'Du and I would wander around in the city, however this place was not my home, I want to go home.
  
        I slowly walked in the west direction, if I want to go back to Western Liang, then I would have to walk through the Guang Hua gate, continue walking towards the west direction, passing through the Yu Men gate would be Western Liang.

        I want to go home.

        I haven't arrived at the Guang Hua gate, suddenly people started to scream, someone even shouted: "Cheng Tian gate is in flames!" I thought I heard it wrong, everyone looked at the south direction, faint flames can be seen on the Cheng Tian gate, black smoke was spreading out, everyone covered their mouths and screamed in shock seeing the beautiful building being enveloped in flames. Those lanterns, those curtains..............The flames were swallowing them one by one, the fire was getting bigger and stronger, the Cheng Tian gate was being burned in the raging fire. 
  
        The streets suddenly became chaotic, countless people screaming and running away, unsure of what to do. Suddenly the army was rushing through, the noisy crowd took the initiative to step aside, the speed of the horses was like a gust of wind. The people responsible for putting out the fire rushed over carrying wooden buckets of water, people pulling carts filled with buckets of water.

        I could see the Shen Wu army surrounding Cheng Tian gate, not long after I could see the ceremonial weaponry. Afterwards the army marched towards the palace, as everything must have been fine now.
 
        I should not be worried, the lives of the people on top of the Cheng Tian gate have nothing to do with me.
  
         I should just go back to Western Liang, tell my father that I had came back, then ride my little red horse on the grassland like the same as before, passing by days without worries.
  
        I saved some of my strength, continued to walk in the west direction. The Shen Wu army passed by with their horses, I could hear whipping sound and a loud shout: "His Majesty have an imperial decree! Close all nine city gates!" Each voice passing the message: "His Majesty have an imperial decree! Close all nine city gates!" Hundred years of prosperity, the Lantern Festival have never have this kind of situation happening before, however the commoners did not have any objections. The commoners are still talking about the fire as they still haven't fully recover from the incident. The intensity of the fire gradually lowered. "Closing all the city gates, can we not go out?" "This huge fire, closing the gates was because they are scared something big might happen. Once the fire at the Cheng Tian gate is put out, then the city gates would be open again....." People around were talking to each other, all the noises made me felt impatient. I could not move, even there was a burning pain when I tried to breathe. My throat was like a charcoal, dry and burning hot. I was sitting by the street and leaning my head against the tree, gasping for air.

        I only sat there for a moment, never have I thought that I would fall asleep just sitting there.
  
        When I was little, I went hunting with my father, I fell asleep on the horse, my father carried me on his back on the way back. I comfortably slept on my father's back, even drooling on his back causing his back to be wet. I was too lazy to lift my eyelids, only could see countless lights in the streets that looked like stars that we normally see on a summer night at the grassland. It was said that if you see a shooting star and then tie your belt into a knot, but then make a wish at the same time, the wish would come true. However I'm too clumsy, every time I see a shooting star, I would either forget to make a wish or tie my belt into a knot......Tonight there were so many shooting stars, if I make a wish, what can I wish for?

        I used my strength to pull out my hand, wanting to tie my belt into a knot, however my fingers were weak, so my hands just hang down.

        It was like that.

        I closed my eyes, and then slept.
 
        I don't know how long I had slept, it felt as long as a person's life, but also felt very short. This sleep felt deep, but also not that deep because I could feel that there was a lantern constantly spinning nonstop right in front of my eyes. The gold foil on the lantern was so bright that it hurts my eyes, also it was constantly talking into my ears. It was very annoying, why can't it let me sleep peacefully?

        I know that I am sick, because if my body doesn't feel cold then it would feel hot, a moment it would feel cold, a moment it would feel hot. The coldness would make me clench my teeth. When I feel hot I would also clench my teeth, because the air that I breathe out would be burning hot.

        I was also talking in my sleep, I want to go back to Western Liang, I want my father, I want A'Du, I want my little red horse.........I want the old days back....Only I knew that the things that I wanted I can no longer have anymore.
 
        When I spit out the mouthful of blood, I already knew.
  
        My chest was in pain, consciousness had dropped, and then I fell back asleep.
  
        In my dreams I was riding the horse in the boundless dessert, looking around. Maybe I was crying, I could hear my own sobbing voice.
 
        What's there to cry about? We Western Liang women do not cry over these things.
  
        In the end I finally woke up, my whole body was in pain, eyelids felt awkward as it felt heavy that I couldn't open it. I slowly opened my eyes, the first thing that I saw was A'Du, she looked at me with her teary red eyes. It was dark everywhere, the sky was filled with stars like a sparse glimmer. I finally recognized that this place is a broken temple, why am I here? A'Du lifted me up and fed me some water. I felt that the pain in my chest got better. I held her hand tightly, muttered: "A'Du, let's go back to Western Liang." My voice was actually hoarse and disordered, even I didn't understand what I was saying, however A'Du nodded her head. Her cold fingers touching my forehead gave me a comfortable feel. Fortunately A'Du came back, and found me. I didn't have any strength to ask her where she had went for the past two days, I was taken as hostage by the assassin, she must be very worried. I felt very relieved having her by my side, A'Du came back, we can go back to Western Liang together.

        I felt dizzy, so I was about to fall asleep again. Suddenly A'Du stood up, I used my strength to open my eyes to glance at her once, she was standing by my side, listening attentively to some sound, I could also hear it too. It was a faint sound, there was a large group of people coming here.
  
        A'Du bent down to help me get up, I felt very weak as if there was no strength in me.
  
        If those people are the Shen Wu army or the Yu Lin army, then I don't want to see them because I don't want to see Li Cheng Yin, however I am scared that A'Du won't be able to take me away from those people.
  
        The temple door opened, in a matter of life or death suddenly a white figure flew down from the rooftop like a huge bird. A bright sword was being swung around in the doorway, I heard a lot of screams, I recognized that the person that flew from the rooftop was Gu Jian and the people outside the door were the Shen Wu army. I felt like blood was rushing to my head, although I didn't see Li Cheng Yin, however Gu Jian is killing people right now.

        A'Du was holding onto the golden inlaid knife, carefully watching Gu Jian fighting against the Shen Wu army, I grabbed the golden inlaid from her hand, A'Du looked at me in a suspicious way.

        I slowly approached the people that were fighting, the Shen Wu army thought that I was with Gu Jian, one after another running towards me with their weapons. Gu Jian's martial arts skills are exceptional, although he was surrounded by the army, every time when someone ran towards me, he would grab the sword in midair and kill. Every move was precise, every time when the sword flashed, someone would be lying down right in front of me.
  
        Warm blood would be splashed on my face, and there would be more and more people lying down in front of me. The Shen Wu army doesn't seem to be afraid of death, everyone running in this direction and being slashed by the sword. I was shocked by the innocent killing, I wanted to shout out 'stop,' however my voice was hoarse and almost unable to speak. Gu Jian seemed to have heard it, but also did not.

        I bit my teeth, and ran towards Gu Jian with the knife, he lightly pushed the knife away, my hand had no strength so the knife fell to the ground. At this moment I could hear loud noises breaking in the air, heavy rocks being thrown towards me, I looked up and A'Du looked at me and rushed over. Smoke was everywhere, the loud noise was so loud that the whole temple was almost shattered by the noise.

<Chapter 23                                                                                                               Chapter 25>

Sunday, September 9, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 23

I'm sorry for the long wait for this chapter, but thank you for your patience and support =) !!! Have you guys watch the drama adaptation of the novel Heavy Sweetness Ash-like Frost? It's one of the best drama adaptations of c-novels along with Love 020 and Ten Miles of Peach blossom. Hopefully this novel would also have a good drama adaptation as well. I will stop talking and let you guys read now. Next chapter would be uploaded next Sunday.

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

     Fortunately the fall was not that painful, after getting up, suddenly a person can be seen standing not too far away.
      
        Gu Jian!

        He was holding onto a box that was filled with food, standing quietly there staring at me.

        I could only force the corners of my mouth to move, facing towards him and smiling.

        Afterwards I quickly turned around and ran.

        Without waiting for me to run three steps further, Gu Jian had already grab hold of me, one hand grabbing onto my wrist, the other hand holding onto the box of food.

        I said: "Just let me go, what's the point of locking me here? I will not leave with you anyways." Gu Jian suddenly laughed coldly, said: "I can let you go, however you have to follow me to this place, as long as you go there with me and don't change your decision, then I will let you go." The moment I heard that I felt that it was strange, so I cautiously asked him: "What place?" "You will find out when you go there." I looked at him strangely, he said: "If you are scared, then forget about what I had just said, anyways I won't let you go, if you don't want to go then don't go." What's there to be afraid of? I said in a loud voice: "You'll keep your promise?" Gu Jian suddenly laughed, "As long as you keep your promise, then I will definitely keep my promise." I said: "What are we waiting for? Let's quickly go." Gu Jian stopped and said: "You don't regret?" "What's there to regret about?" I suddenly thought of something, said: "You aren't allow to regret either." Gu Jian smiled, said: "I definitely won't regret." He placed down the box of food, opened the lid, inside the box was really a roasted mandarin duck. He said: "You eat first, and then we'll go." At first I didn't have any appetite, however seeing him like this, if I don't finish the food he will definitely not let me go, so I grabbed the chopsticks and then started to eat the roasted mandarin duck. Honestly my throat and my mouth were in pain, even my tongue was numb, chewing the roasted mandarin duck in my mouth did not have any taste at all. However I quickly finished eating, placing down the chopsticks, said: "Let's go." However Gu Jian looked at me, asked: "Was it delicious?" I carelessly nodded, he did not say anything, only raising his head to look at the round moon in the sky, then he pulled up the fur coat, covering half of my face, said: "Let's go." Gu Jian's martial arts skills was quite fast, I could see that the tree leaves in front of me quickly pass through, then we flew from the rooftop to the bottom of the tall walls. Looking at these walls, I suddenly felt that it was quite familiar.

        Gu Jian pulled me to the top of the wall. After landing on top of the wall I couldn't help but to look around, immediately I felt foolish.
  
        The walls consists of large pieces of glazed roof tiles with interlocking wooden brackets, which was quite magnificent, in the middle the outlines of the palace halls can be seen making this place quite familiar, because every time when I am at the top of the walls these were the things I would immediately see. I was speechless, Eastern Palace!
  
        This place was the Eastern Palace! The place that I had just left was within the palace walls of the Eastern Palace.
  
        Gu Jian seeing me dumbstruck, faintly said: "That's right, we were in the storage room of Eastern Palace." I bit my tongue and not saying anything, I regret a lot, I should have shouted out from the window, so that the entire Yu Lin army would come, then I would be safe. No matter how good Gu Jian's skills were, he cannot snatch me away again when facing against the Yu Lin army which consists of thousands of people........I really regret a lot.

        However regretting now was no use. Gu Jian pulled me to jump off the tall walls, then going on top of someone's rooftop, twisting and turning, landing and passing through someone's garden, opening a small door, the bustling world suddenly appeared in front of me.

        Every time at this night everywhere would be filled with lanterns, people and laughter. It seemed like everyone had came to the street, as if all the lanterns were hung on the streets of the Capital City. The moon in the ink coloured sky was like a mirror that's bright and white, but also like a glutinous rice ball, honey filling would pour out once bitten. The moonlight reflected the thin layer of frost on the rooftops, looking more and more clear, but not too cold. The night wind had burnt firework smell, women with fragrant smell, smell of food, all mixed together would be the special smell of the Lantern festival......The front of the stores on both sides of the street and the trees hung numerous kinds of lanterns. Gu Jian and I walked into the street that was like a tide of people, as though all four directions were surrounded by people and lanterns. The lanterns come in different colour: yellow, pink, blue, purple, red, and green.....Staring at these colourful lanterns would make a person feel dizzy. If this happened before, I don't know how happy I would be with this type of excitement. However today I could only lower my head, walk silently and let Gu Jian pull my hand. At the front of the street, a huge crowd was forming watching the dragon lantern. It was so crowded that Gu Jian couldn't help but to stop. From time to time, the dragon's mouth would spew out silver fireworks, and everyone would be amazed. Suddenly the dragon's head faced towards us, 'bang' spraying out large fireworks, everyone was so surprised that they stepped back. The fireworks was sprayed in front of me, I was so scared that I closed my eyes. When I was squeezed by the crowd, I almost fell back, fortunately Gu Jian reached out his hand and supported me from behind. When I opened my eyes, I realized that he used his sleeve to cover my face and that I was in his embrace.

        I did not make any noises, only using my strength to break free from his hands, fortunately he did not force me again, only grabbing my arm and continued to walk forward.
  
        After passing through the south street, suddenly a whistling sound can be heard, making a 'bang' sound in midair, everyone raised their heads, seeing half of the sky covered with gold and silver lines, creating a large flower in the sky, overshadowing the round moon. Apparently fireworks were released at the top of the seven star tiered tower.

         The top of the tower was filled with splashes of gold and silver, various fireworks with different patterns like the peony springs, the people on the streets raising their heads high. Gu Jian also raised his head to look at the fireworks, the chilly wind blowing his head scarf, behind us was like a lantern city. Every time when fireworks rose to the sky, his face would become bright, every time when the fireworks dimmed down, his face would be hidden in the shadows. I could see him through the brightness and darkness.

        I was thinking, if I run away at this moment, Gu Jian won't be able to catch up to me, the street was filled with people, if I escape to the crowd, he will definitely not be able to find me.
  
        However he was grabbing onto my arm, grabbing very tightly, I won't be able to break free from his hands.
  
        Both sides of the street were lined up with vendors selling various kinds of things such as snow willow flower, bright and shimmery new year banner, one glance would make people feel dizzy, making people not fond of it. I lowered my eyelids as I didn't want to look at those things. However there was this one vendor seller blocking our way, looking at Gu Jian with joy: "Gong Zi, buy your wife a pair of hairpin! Your wife is beautiful, however if she wears the hairpin, she'll be even more beautiful! Ten copper coins for one pair of hairpin, cheap and pretty! Gong Zi, buy a pair of hairpin!" Gu Jian waved his hand, I thought he wanted to push away the seller, never have I thought that he would pick a pair hairpin and give the seller ten copper coins.

        He said: "Lower your head." I said: "I don't like these things." However he pretended as if he didn't hear what I had just said, reaching out his hands to place a hairpin into my hair, placing one after another.

        Because we were standing very close, I could feel his breath on my face, soft, warm, and also itchy. His body had a faint smell, not the ambergris fragrance that I used to smell, but an indescribable faint smell like the cantaloupes from Western Liang, fresh with a chilly feeling. Afterwards Gu Jian pulled my hand, looking at my right and left side very seriously, as though he was scared that the hairpins would become crooked. I've never seen him look at me this attentively, so I felt that my ears were burning hot, very uncomfortable, so I urged him: "Let's go." I didn't know where he would bring me, he seemed as though he didn't know either, we were walking and stopping at the bustling street, because the street was too crowded, the stream of people were like a tide rushing forward, wanted to move but can't move.

        Continuously turning until we had reached the last street, Zhuque main street appearing in front of my eyes. Looking as far as I can see, the street that is outside the Cheng Tian gate is often cleared when the Emperor tours the street, right now it is crowded with people, at a distant place a bright building can be seen.

        I could guess where he was bringing me, suddenly I felt scared. "What's wrong? You don't dare to go?" Gu Jian faintly smiled, turned around to look at me, I felt that his smile had a hidden meaning. His smile was not like that when I first saw him. At that time he was wearing a white gown, standing on top of the roof, looking at A'Du and I rushing through the streets.

        Why did it turn out like this?

        I said: "What do you really want to do?" "Nothing is sadder than a sorrow heart." His tone of voice was flat as if he was saying something that wasn't important. "I have given up all hope, so I want you to feel the same way and just give up." I wasn't carefully listening to what he was saying, but staring at the tall city gate tower, wandering in my thoughts. This is the Cheng Tian gate, there were countless red lanterns lit up upstairs mixed with all kinds of lanterns creating a layer of bright light, downstairs was also surrounded by countless lights making the whole city gate tower bright like the heavenly bejeweled jade palace. The closer you are, the clearer you see. The pearl coloured curtain hanging from upstairs was blown by the wind, drifting lightly, finally I could see the ceremonial weaponry and the people standing behind the curtain. The palace maids with their hair worn in a bun and moving, the lighting showing their figures behind the curtains, I suddenly recall seeing a shadow play on the streets before. At the high and tall Cheng Tian gate, everything happening upstairs was like a shadow play, every movement felt that it was out of reach.
                       Image result for 皮影戏

        The faint sound floated downstairs and can be heard from a distance. The people downstairs suddenly started to make loud noises because the curtains upstairs suddenly opened up, the palace maids threw things down, people fighting over them. I knew these were gold money, these money are specifically used by the officials to give to the commoners. The sound of the money scattered on the floor seemed like a beautiful rainfall.....seemed like everyone knelt down to grab the money on the floor, only I was standing there staring blankly at the top of the Cheng Tian gate.

<Chapter 22                                                                                                                Chapter 24>

Monday, July 2, 2018

东宫 Eastern Palace: Chapter 22

I can't even swim, the assassin's toss was violent, I fell deep into the water, surrounded by ice cold water, my head was covered by dark blue water, a beam of light can only be seen at the top of my head.....I 'gudu' drank a mouthful of water, thinking about the last time I went into the river to save someone, A'Du saving me, then going to the Wannian County court to dispute, the Pei Zhao before wore a light gown with a belt, amiable and adorable.

       Thinking about Pei Zhao would immediately remind me of Li Cheng Yin, never thought that in the end Li Cheng Yin and I were not fated to be together, when we both liked each other......If he didn't like me, he wouldn't have made such a promise to the assassin in front of everyone. It's only Li Cheng Yin and I were not fated to be together. Fortunately there was Zhao Liang Di, even if I die, Li Cheng Yin wouldn't be heartbroken for long, he definitely will slowly forget about me, then he will live well.
 
        The water continuously went through my nose and my mouth, I don't know how much water I had swallowed, gradually feeling suffocated........The beam of light from the top of my head became further and further away, I gradually sank deep into the water. All I can see was slowly becoming pitch-black. A gush of wind was gently blowing through my ears, a person holding onto me......He was saving me, holding onto me while spinning through the night wind....spinning.....slowly spinning......The sky was filled with stars like raindrops falling down.......Between heaven and earth only his eyes were gazing into my eyes.......His eyes only had me......I wanted to faint, I really wanted to faint, being held by him in such a way, it was this person......I know I love him deeply, he is also someone that loves me deeply, only if he is there, then I will feel safe.
 
        I dreamed about this dream many times, it's only that I haven't thought about it. I was about to be drowned to death....Also, no one is coming to save me.
  
        The hero in my dreams did not come to save me.
  
        Li Cheng Yin, he did not come to save me.
  
        I was like a steelyard weight sinking deep into the water, I don't know how much time have passed, it felt like many years have passed. My chest suddenly felt some pain I couldn't help but to open my mouth, spitting out water.

     I don't know how much water I had drank.......I was exhausted from spitting out water.
        
        I almost finished spitting out the water that I had swallowed, just lying there feeling dizzy, I couldn't open my eyes as the sunlight was shining directly into my eyes, I used all my strength to see, a pile of withered grass can be seen on one side, then I used all my strength to look into another direction, a pile of stones can be seen on another side.
  
        The corner of the assassin's gown can be seen in a close distance, even after my body had submerged into the water, I still did not die. Also the assassin, I would rather die than to be tortured this way.
 
        I did not have any strength left, the moment I opened my mouth to talk, I wanted to spit out water, I said without any strength: "If you want to kill or cut me into pieces......"

        The assassin did not respond, but rather used the sword to poke my head, the moment I turned my head I wanted to spit out water..........I felt like I spit out a creek......I closed my eyes and then I slept.

        The dream took place in the Eastern Palace, Li Cheng Yin and I were arguing. He was trying to protect Zhao Liang Di, I fiercely argued with him. He said: "You think I care that you have saved my father? Don't ever think that I owe you a favor!" I was so angry that I wanted to spit out blood, I said: "I didn't want you to return any favor, however last time you saved me from the assassin, so this time I am only returning a favor." Although I was saying that, however in my heart I felt very sad, suddenly tears were shed. I didn't want him to see me cry, so I hid behind the fragrant box, the fragrant box was really hot, I felt my skin was burning even though I hid for only a moment, very painful.

        I lifted my eyelids, eyes seem as though it was swollen, however my face was burning hot, my whole body was cold, a burst of coldness making me clench my teeth. I asked A'Du: "Is it snowing?" A'Du went to get my little red horse, my father was not there, we quietly went out to ride our horses. Riding our horses in the snow was fun, it was so cold that the tip of our noses were red, snowflakes continuously fell onto the sandy hill, the roots of the grasses curved like my father's beard......If my father knew that I ran onto the snow and behaved atrociously, he will definitely scold me......Li Cheng Yin have never seen my little red horse, not knowing how fast it can run.........I don't know why I kept on thinking about Li Cheng Yin, he doesn't treat me well.....My heart felt bitter, no, even if he doesn't treat me well, I only hope that his eyes only had me.........However unfortunately he has Zhao Liang Di.......When Li Cheng Yin had snapped the arrow, I remember him shouting out: "Xiao Feng...." If I can't survive, he will definitely feel sad.....although I don't know how sad he will feel.....I used all my strength to open my eyes, discovering that I was not by the riverside, but rather in a small house, moonlight sparsely shining from the outside, making the house not too dark. Today must be the Lantern Festival......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......It should be bustling with noise on the day of the Lantern Festival, however it did not seem like it...........My whole body was cold, constantly shivering, suddenly discovering that my body was covered by a leather fur coat. Although the leather was made out of ordinary sheep skin, however the fur was suppose to keep me warm, I only realized that I have a fever, a blanket was on top of the coat, however I kept on shivering.

        I gradually got used to the darkness, the house was filled with boxes like a storage room. The assassin was sitting not too far away, looking at me while I slowly wake up, without making a sound he placed a bowl beside me. I touched the bowl, it was very hot.

       "Ginger soup." His voice had a weird accent, I was very exhausted that I did not have any strength, I sounded like a mosquito when I spoke; "I........." I could't lift the bowl.
 
        Before when I was sick, I felt like I was dying, now I am finally sick again, I usually don't get sick, however when I am sick it felt that way. I have been sick for two times, my wrist felt sore, I couldn't lift the bowl.

        I did not hope, also did not feel like thinking about why the assassin give me a bowl of ginger soup. However this place was much warmer than by the river, although the house was filled with things, but after all it was still indoors, ten times warmer than by the river with wind chills and rushing water.
 
        The assassin came over to grab the bowl of ginger soup, slightly supporting my body with one hand, my throat was sore, I couldn't care much about this, I held the bowl with one hand, swallowing the ginger soup in big mouthfuls. The soup was extremely spicy, extremely unpleasant to drink, however after drinking the soup, my blood vessels begin to circulate again, I suddenly choked.

        My face was flushing red when I coughed, the hand that was holding onto the bowl was continuously trembling. When the assassin saw me like this, he held the bowl with one hand and used the other hand to pat my back. I slowly breathed, suddenly reaching out one hand to take off the cloth covering his face.

        With his skills, he could have easily avoided my hands by just dodging, however if he wanted to dodge, he will have to use one of his hands, also if he let go of his hand, the back of my head would hit the box. I thought that he would definitely dodge my hand, and then I could break the porcelain bowl, maybe I could even grab one of the broken pieces and uses it in case anything happens. I didn't expect that he didn't let go of me to dodge my hand, more so I absolutely did not expect the face that was behind the cloth.

        I stared at him blankly, the moonlight was bright, although it passed through the window, however I could still recognize him.

        Gu Jian!
 
        Why is it him?
 
         All my blood felt like it was rushing through to my head, I asked: "Why?" He did not answer me, only slowly putting down the bowl.   

        I asked again: "Why?" Why was it him? Why did he take the Emperor as hostage? Why did he kill so many people without thinking about the consequences? Why did he take me away? Why? Why did everything happen?

        I was very silly, how many people in this world would have such exceptional martial arts skills? How could I have not thought about this?

        I was very silly even using the arrowhead, waiting for Gu Jian to come save me.

        A'Du's safety was unknown, Gu Jian was my last hope, I was waiting for him to save.

        Why?

        He faintly said: "Not why." "You killed so many people!" I was very angry, "What are you going to do? Why have you taken the Emperor as hostage?" Gu Jian stood up, the moonlight reflected through the window shining at his shoulder, he faintly said: "I will kill if I want to kill, if you are unsatisfied, then I don't have anything else to say." "What did you do to A'Du?" I was grabbing onto his shoulders, "If you do anything bad to A'Du, I will definitely take revenge for her." Gu Jian said: "I did not kill A'Du, believing me or not is your choice." I felt relieved, said: "You can let me go, I promise that I will not say anything to anyone, I will only say that I ran away." Gu Jian suddenly smiled: "Xiao Feng, why?" I was confused: "What do you mean why?" "Why are you treating Li Cheng Yin so well? What is good about him? He....He has always been betraying you. Right now he's marry one woman after another, you constantly get mistreated by those women, even he mistreated you. In the future when he becomes the Emperor, he will have even more women, so more people will mistreat you. Why are you treating Li Cheng Yin this good? Is it because of Western Liang that is why you are willing to sacrifice your happiness to live in this cold lonely palace?" I stared blankly, said: "Western Liang is Western Liang, however I am already married to him, also he doesn't treat me that bad......" "How is he not treating you badly? He's just using you, do you know what he's thinking? Do you know what he's planning on doing? You can't win, you can't win over those women, even you can't win over Li Cheng Yin. Right now they are still worried about Western Liang, however once Western Liang is not useful to the Central Plains, you will definitely will not able to win." I sighed and said: "I don't have that much worries, however Li Cheng Yin is my husband, I can't abandon my husband." Gu Jian laughed coldly: "What if Li Cheng Yin abandons you?" I said: "He won't." The first time when he encountered the assassin, he pushed me away; the second time at Ming Yu Fang, he tried to blocked my way to prevent me from going to the assassin. Every time he would put the danger on himself, Li Cheng Yin wouldn't abandon me.

        Gu Jian laughed coldly, said: "In front of the whole world, who do you think you are? If a person has to become an Emperor, it's unavoidable for them to be cold blooded. I brought you here, do you think Li Cheng Yin will come and save you? Do you think he would have the urge to save you? However today is the Lantern Festival, people go out to look at the lanterns, the Capital's city gate is open, allowing anyone to go inside. What are you to them? The Li family are unworthy of you, they are still celebrating with the commoners by the Cheng Tian gate, not caring about your safety. If I really was an assassin, I could easily kill you with one strike, then leave the Capital at night to escape to a faraway place.....After eight to ten days have passed, only then the Yu Lin army will come here and find your corpse. Li Cheng Yin will probably just pretend to be sad over your dead body, afterwards he will just bestow the title of a Crown Princess to Zhao Liang Di, who will remember you? You still hope that he would remember you?" I lowered my head, did not say anything.

        Gu Jian pulled my hand: "Let's go Xiao Feng, leave with me. We can leave this place together, go far away from this place where people scheme against each other. Once we are outside of the gate, we can release horses and raise sheep together......"  I broke free from his hands, said: "Whether Li Cheng Yin treats me good or not, this is the path I have chosen, also this is the path my father have chosen on behalf of Western Liang, I can't just run away, Western Liang cannot either...." I looked at him: "Just let me go." Gu Jian quietly stared at me, after a while he finally said something: "No." I felt sad and tired, before when I had a fever, my throat was burning like fire, however since I have spoken too much, my throat hurts right now, my whole body did not have any strength, even there is a burning pain just by breathing. I caressed my throat with my hand, then I slowly went back to lean against the box.

        He was thinking of saying something to me, however seeing me like this, he seemed as though he couldn't bear to say it out loud, only asking me: "Do you want to eat something?" I shook my head.

        He couldn't help but ask again: "I will buy something for you to eat, okay?" I wanted to shake my head, however I suddenly nodded.

        He helped me pull up my blanket, and then said: "You should sleep." I closed my eyes, quickly fell asleep.
 
         Approximately after the incense stick was burned, I opened my eyes again.

        Inside the house was still dark and quiet, only the faint moonlight reflecting from the window to the ground can be seen. I got up to look at the moonlight, shining brightly. Today is the fifteenth of the first month of the lunar year, the Lantern Festival, the moon was beautiful, the streets must be crowded and bustling with noises.
  
        I wrapped myself tightly in the fur coat, went over to shake the door, however the door can't be opened because the door was looked from the outside. I looked around, one thing noticeable about the house was that it was only surrounded by walls, only the window can be found near the top of the house. The window was built near the top only so that air could flow freely into the house. I tried to touch it by reaching my hands, but I wasn't able to touch the window.

        However there's always another method, I pushed a box over there, then stacked another box on top to create a large step. I don't know what was inside the boxes, fortunately they weren't heavy. However my whole body had weakened, no strength was left in my hands, when I pushed the boxes underneath the window, I was so tired that sweat were dripping.

        I stepped on the boxes to climb up, the window was made out of wood, wouldn't move even if I push it. I could only climb down and search around the place. Once I opened a box, it contained silk fabric inside.

        I didn't know that rich people owned this place, placing these beautiful silk fabrics locked in the storage room or maybe this is the place that stores all the silk fabrics. I didn't want to overthink too much, disappointingly closed the box. In the end I looked at the porcelain bowl that was once filled with ginger soup.
 
        I smashed the bowl, picked up one of the broken pieces, then climbed up again to cut open the window.
  
        Although carving of the window was thin, however cutting open the window requires a lot of effort, I kept on cutting the window.......accidentally cutting my finger, bleeding.
  
        Suddenly I felt there was no hope, by the time Gu Jian comes back, I still wouldn't be able to get out. He might kill me, or maybe locked me here for the rest of my life, maybe I won't be able to see A'Du ever again, also won't be able to see Li Cheng Yin.

        I only despaired for a little while, then I started to cut the window frame again.
  
        I don't know how much time have passed, finally a snapping sound can be heard, the carving on the window frame had finally snapped. I felt there was hope, continued to cut the other corner of the window. After the carving on the other corner was cut off, I used all my strength to break open the window.
  
        I suddenly felt happy, however jumping off from such a high place would only cause my legs to break. I pulled out a silk fabric from the box, placing a corner of the silk fabric underneath the box while tossing the other corner of the fabric out of the window. I used the fabric that was out of the window to slowly climb down.

        I don't have any strength left in my hands, the silk fabric was slippery, I could only hold onto the fabric with my wrist, the weight of my body was hung onto my wrist. Holding onto the silk fabric was extremely painful, however I could care less. I was only worried that if I let go, then I will fall down, so I carefully climbed down. When my tiptoes finally reached the ground, my feet felt numb as though one movement will cause me to fall to the ground.

<Chapter 21                                                                                                    Chapter 23>

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>