The following days after, I was busy to the point of collapsing.
I used to never be involved in governmental affairs, and now they all suddenly rushed at me. Luckily, I could always manage to take Prince Wumin with me. He’s rather of use, unfortunately, in the matters related to the ceremony, I’d have to go into battle myself. This inevitably became an extreme headache for me. With great difficulty, the ascension ceremony passed by and the day of when we journey to East Yuan Country neared.
The past three days that Prince Wumin and I were separated, were exactly the time the King of Xiuyi’s entire family was demoted to a commoner status. With the drizzling of the autumn rain, the entire West Yang Palace was filled with fog. I opened an umbrella and thought about all the different kinds of issues that would happen once I returned to East Yuan Country. I didn’t know what method Princess Shengan used, but she came over in a palanquin, and faintly courtesied at my side: “Your Majesty.”
The hand I used to hold the umbrella immediately became somewhat unsteady after seeing her delicate frame holding onto an umbrella in the light drizzle. She was without makeup with her hair down, and was attired in a plain white robe, making her seem as if she blended in with the deep mist behind her.
She was a bit different from how she was before. Her face displayed a tranquil solemnness that I had never seen before. I suppose that she no longer felt anything for Prince Wumin. As a fellow woman, seeing her get betrayed by her lover and be orphaned, to then be reduced to a commoner from a princess, I felt somewhat helpless. Thus, I said: “You may rise.”
Only when Princess Shengan slowly lifted her head did I discover that there was a white colored flower bud above her ear. This was a bit odd because people usually wore flowers, not flower buds.
Princess Shengan laughed lightly when she saw me stare at the flower bud: “Your Majesty, in this late autumn season, which is not the season for flowers to bud, this flower bud that cannot distinguish between truth and lies foolishly tried to open to become a flower. But with the current environment, how could it possibly survive? So your lowly servant could not bear it and simply plucked it.”
She was talking about the flower bud, but why do I feel that she was actually talking about herself? But currently, I was unable to comfort her. Moreover, her current appearance and tone of voice was oddly strange, making me seriously think that she was possessed… So I could only reluctantly say: “Shengan, you actually think this much…”
Princess Shengan paused for a bit, and then said: “This servant is not called Shengan anymore. That is a title bestowed upon me by the late Emperor. I am now a commoner… If Your Majesty wishes to, I’d like it if you call me You’er again.”
“…” Since this was her last request, there was no reason why I shouldn’t fulfill it. I cleared my throat, and said, “You’er…”
Princess Shengan laughed, and said: “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
After she saluted me, she took out a cloth, and unfolded. Inside were the needles Prince Wumin and I accidentally stuck on her head that day…
Err, don’t tell me that Princess Shengan was going to settle the score now?
I went a bit more on guard while looking at her, but she actually only laughed a little, and slowly gave me the cloth: “Your Majesty, needles are a sign of broken bonds, it looks like you have already shown how you felt that day…”
“…” Looks like I thought too much…
She continued: “It’s best of this servant returns the needles back to Your Majesty. I hope that Your Majesty would not blame this servant’s past rudeness…”
I pondered as I accepted the cloth and handed over the oiled paper umbrella to her: “You use it.”
Her palanquin was still outside, and there was quite a distance from here to the outside. She was already soaked from head to toe, so the umbrella wasn’t really of any help. It was just that me giving it to her, could also be considered a way to comfort her.
Princess Shengan stared blankly, laughed, and accepted the oiled paper umbrella: “Thank you Your Majesty.”
“This servant… shall take her leave.”
I nodded again.
Princess Shengan lifted the green umbrella and slowly walked towards the outside. As her figure grew increasingly indistinct in the curtain of rain, the gold shine on top of the cloth in my hands was particularly uncomfortable to my eyes. I couldn’t help but raise my voice towards Princess Shengan’s silhouette: “Err, actually, the gold in these golden needles are all real. You could keep it, and use it if you don’t have any more money…”
Princess Shengan stumbled, and stiffly turned around: “I thank Your Majesty for your beautiful intentions, but no need…”
I said awkwardly: “Mm, go then.”
Princess Shengan slowly left once again with a graceful posture. I sighed and stared blankly at the cloth.
I wasn’t sure how much time had past until the faint sound of a girl suddenly came from behind me: “What, you hate me that much that you’ll make me get wet in the rain.
I turned around, and actually saw Prince Wumin. He was holding a green umbrella and used a bit of effort to lift it to cover me. I hurriedly took the umbrella and said: “No, I just saw Princess Shengan earlier. She was wearing a white funeral robe with a white flower bud over her ear, and used a flower analogy to say something…”
Before I even had the time to express to him my shock regarding Princess Shengan’s huge transformation, Prince Wumin narrowed his eyes and threw the cloth in my hand on the ground.
“What are you doing?” I stared blankly.
“Shengan gave you that?” He looked at the golden needles in the cloth, “Probably poisoned.”
Shocked, I said: “No way…”
Prince Wumin glanced at me with indifference, bent over, and used his sleeve to grasp a needle to poke at a nearby flower stem. The surface of the stem quickly withered, and the scattered on the soil. The one in front was proudly in bloom, the one behind it, was like a withered leaf. The two contrasts were exceptionally sad.
“…” I didn’t know what to say for a moment and Prince Wumin lifted the cloth while sighing: “This is ‘Extreme Benevolence’, and nothing can be done about it. If we throw it again, it could harm others. Burying it in the ground would make it infertile, if you burn it, the ones who smell it would die…”
I was speechless: “It’s that toxic?”
Prince Wumin said: “Mn, a famous doctor studied it a long time ago, it has no antidote.”
“It’s this poisonous, yet it’s called ‘Extreme Benevolence’…” I shook my head, and couldn’t help but think about that Extreme Benevolence.
Prince Wumin pursed his lips and said: “That doctor’s name is Chang Yuji, and has encountered the ruthless Extreme Benevolence in the past. This poison is to commemorate the feelings between two people. He took the one word from two of his dead friends to name it.”
…It actually was related to an extreme benevolence!
I said dumbfoundedly: “I have an idea as to where to toss it.”
“Good idea.” Prince Wumin’s shoulder slightly shook as he gave me the cloth, “Tell the servants to throw it into the manure pit. Take care to not touch it.”
I nodded, yet I couldn’t help but ask: “You’re… just going to let Shengan go?”
Prince Wumin said indifferently: “Even though Shengan is impulsive, she isn’t that stupid. Since she did it this in such an obvious way, there must be a deep meaning behind it. She still has not walked too far —— go tell the imperial bodyguards to call her back.”
I said hesitantly: “What?”
Prince Wumin whispered a few words beside my ears. I was continuously shocked by the content and deep meaning within his words, but seeing Prince Wumin’s calm expression, I could only go and dispatch servants to look for Shengan. Prince Wumin laughed, grabbed at the umbrella, and slowly walked towards a corner. A few blinks later, he disappeared without a trace.
It indeed played out to Prince Wumin’s expectations. Not long after, Shengan returned. It seemed as though she was walking at an extremely slow pace, waiting for me to call her back.
She held the umbrella up as she walked, with footsteps not as calm as it was previously. Her face was also filled with suffering, as if she wasn’t walking towards me, but rather to her execution ground.
And to me, Prince Wumin was indeed Princess Shengan’s execution ground.
Princess Shengan walked to my front, and gently saluted: “Your Majesty.”
I nodded: “The reason why I called you here is because I suddenly thought of something.”
She barely gave a reply. I’m assuming that she’s waiting for me to give her some kind of unpardonable criminal charge, but I simply pursed my lips and turned around to pluck a white flower deep in rime. Then, I took the flower bud from Princess Shengan’s ear and replaced it with the blossoming flower.