Xiao Xiang Dong Er
The Legend of Chu Qiao: Division 11's Princess Agent
Chapter 291: Chapter 291
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The rain got heavier, and even blew open a window. The icy cold wind blew at her sleeve, causing the scent of wisteria flowers to waft around her nose, just like when she sat on the swing full of wisteria flowers when she was young. The winds blew past her ear and lifted the ends of her skirt and hair. As the palace maid gave a push, she flew high up in the air. The sky appeared so close; it seemed like she could touch it if she reached out her hand. The clouds were white, just like the cows outside the pass which her mother had described to her. The shouts coming from her brothers in the martial arts hall reverberated around her ear.
The sunlight was warm then. The atmosphere was continually joyous. She was still so young, with a clear look in her eyes. She straightened her legs and followed the motion of the swing, fixating her gaze past the tall city walls and the palace gates, onto a black door further ahead. She saw him standing in the middle of the courtyard, a cold look in his eyes. The wind, as it blew across his sleeves, almost threatened to sweep him away. His face turned indistinguishable, up till the point where it slowly started to disappear.
“Master Shuixiang, Your Majesty is calling you. Master Shuixiang?” The head eunuch called out to her in a panicked manner, but she did not react. Yan Xun’s face was buried in the smoke from the incense. He looked at her, suddenly understanding everything.
Yan Xun looked at her for a long while before he asked quietly, “Your name is Shuixiang?”
She did not answer nor turn around, still standing at her original position.
Yan Xun asked again, “You live in Taiji Convent?”
She still did not answer. The silence at this point became terrifying. The candlelight shone on her body, forming a long shadow on the ground, looking frail.
Yan Xun’s eyebrows slowly relaxed. He looked at her solemnly, devoid of any enmity. Plainly, he said, “Leave.”
Shuixiang started to feel her larynx tighten. Her hands, which were by her side, trembled slowly. Despite a few attempts, she was unable to clench her fists. The stubbornness, humiliation, the hatred which had gnawed at her heart like parasites… Those feelings instantly dissipated with that sentence. Her heart, which she had held together by hatred, shattered into smithereens in that instant. She felt so hollow, painful, and cold.
“Master Shuixiang, Your Majesty is telling you to leave. Leave, quickly!” The experienced head eunuch began to sense that something was amiss as he coaxed her from the side. Shuixiang let out a sigh, and began to walk out of the room slowly.
The candlelights flickered brightly in the palace. Yan Xun, seemingly frustrated, dismissed his servants and sat down in front of his study table which he had just tidied. He lowered his head and read the few documents that remained. His brush brushed across the paper, letting out gentle sounds. The wind blew past, lifting Shuixiang’s sleeves and revealing a pair of shoes from within. Her steps were quiet, even concubines that had entered the palace for many years could not match the way she walked.
As the servant opened the door, the wind and rain welcomed her. She lifted one leg and stepped out of the palace doors, half her shoulders exposed. It was time for her to leave, and she should have left. However, unknowingly, she stopped right there, standing rooted to the spot, unable to move.
The head eunuch raised his eyebrows and stepped forward to support her arm. “I’ll walk you out.” As he finished his words, he helped her out of the door.
The junior eunuch in the palace stepped forward to close the doors. Shuixiang obliged and allowed the head eunuch to lead her along as she lowered her head. As the wind blew past once again, her veil was blown away. The head eunuch exclaimed, and bent his head to pick it up, loosening his grip on her. She turned around and peeped into the door, which had not closed entirely. In the darkness and dim lights, he sat there alone. He did not look up, but he had stopped writing.
As the palace doors closed slowly, she recalled so many things that she had forgotten. Back then, when they were young, innocent and naive, time flowed by fast as they immersed themselves in joy. It had been so long…so long since she recalled these memories. She thought that she had forgotten them entirely. However, at this moment, she stood there as those memories flooded her mind, unrestrained.
Back then, Xia was in the peak of its prosperity. Her father was in good health and her brothers were still young. They fought with each other with the vigor and mentality of young children. She was overly innocent and naive back then, unable to see the atrocities that were carried out behind the scenes. She did not see the blood-stained swords behind the colorful blankets; even the sounds of the wardrums were drowned out by the sounds of the musical instruments. She lived in her own world as she deceived herself, convinced that she would marry him one day, then following and taking care of him her entire life, believing and listening to him.
If things stayed this way forever, would there not be the drama that ensued in future?
Who exactly was wrong?
“Master Shuixiang, your veil.” Shuixiang turned around, to the shock of the head eunuch. Although he had not seen her face before, he had seen her eyes. However, now, she looked more than 20 years older. The corners of her eyes were wrinkled, while her hair was white. The look in her eyes were no longer calm, it looked dead and fallen.
“Thank you,” Shuixiang received the veil from the head eunuch, but did not put it back on. She turned around and walked towards the exit of the palace, not requiring anyone to lead the way for her due to her familiarity with the place.
Boom! The palace gates finally closed completely. The winds raged on as junior eunuchs rushed forward with umbrellas. The head eunuch chased after her, but only saw her shadow wandering about in the loneliness, along the long street blanketed by fog. The raindrops splattered onto her shoulders, accentuating her lonely appearance.
This day was the fourth day of the ninth month, in the 14th year of the Kaiyuan era. On the 12th month in the same year, Taiji Convent, located east of the capital, experienced a large fire, which burned the entire compound to the ground.
That night, AhJing, the commander of the capital’s elite troops, entered the palace. When he saw Yan Xun, Yan Xun was having dinner. After saluting, he declared in a low voice, “Master Shuixiang from Taiji Convent has departed.”
Yan Xun raised his eyebrows and asked, “Dead?”
“No, she left.”
Yan Xun lowered his head to continue drinking his porridge and asked, “You haven’t eaten?”
AhJing wanted to say that he had eaten, but felt obliged not to deceive his king. Honestly, he answered, “I just arrived from Peidu. I haven’t eaten.”
Yan Xun remarked casually, “Sit down and let’s eat together.”
AhJing replied, “I do not dare.”
Yan Xun did not force him as he turned around to order the palace maids to lay out a separate table for him. AhJing sat on a stool at the side and ate half a bowl of porridge. After he finished, Yan Xun ordered him to take his leave. AhJing, puzzled, asked softly, “Your Majesty, don’t you want to know where she went?”
Yan Xun replied calmly, “No need.”
“Do we still send people to watch over her?” A palace maid wearing green walked forward, grabbed a handful of golden spices, and deposited them into a golden incense pot, adding to the scent of incense already lingering around the palace.
Yan Xun hesitated for a moment before replying emotionlessly, “No need.”
AhJing instantly regretted speaking too much. After he knelt down to greet Yan Xun, he took his leave.
The outside of the palace was a snowy white, unlike the inside which was shrouded with darkness. The bright moonlight shone on the ground, coloring the earth white. However, there was still darkness lingering around the corners.
The lights in the palace went out. The head eunuch of the internal supervising office, with his back bent, walked out. The eunuch of Tongshi House, who was beside him, asked, “Which lady does Your Majesty want to summon tonight?”
“None,” the head eunuch used his thumb and index finger to signal that the emperor was not in a good mood as he continued, “Your Majesty is asleep.”
The palace was silent. Yan Xun lay on his bed and closed his eyes.
The night was endlessly long.