Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol02 Ch41
The day the Dong Lin army officially embarked on its journey to Yun Chang was also the day He Xia said his goodbyes to the Princess and rushed from the capital to the border.
Most of the Yun Chang army had already been placed on standby near the army. They mustered enough courage against the fearless Dong Lin advisor, Chu Beijie, by preparing every single corner of the border. After all, all knew that only the Duke of Zhen-Bei could defeat the Marquess of Jing-An. Yun Chang placed their faith in the Marquess of Jing-An, knowing with him leading their army, it was an evenly matched showdown against Chu Beijie.
The flags covered the sky as usual while the battle drums shook the skies. It seemed a little less sad than usual. The atmosphere was replaced by fierce determination.
He Xia wore handsome new clothes. He seemed to be in high spirits as hundreds of gazes from officials rested on him. Only the Prince Consort could defeat Chu Beijie at the moment. Yun Chang’s fate, victory or defeat, in the battle were in his hands. Under the thousands of gazes, He Xia’s expression was both prideful and stern. He turned to look at the Princess who handed him a cup of alcohol to send him off as luck. His eyes stopped on the Princess’ charming face and he smiled. Although he didn’t say a word, that one smile was enough.
All of the thousands of words Yaotian had melted into a single, deep affectionate gaze. She knew that even if she didn’t want him to leave, his departure was imminent. She whispered, saying, “Be utterly careful, Prince Consort.”
He Xia watched her calmly at first, At this remark, he suddenly revealed a very pleased, charming smile. He relaxed and murmured in her ear, “There is one question that all of the hundred officials of Yun Chang below have asked. I thought for sure that Princess would ask too, but it seems I guessed wrong.”
“Why should I ask?” Yaotian’s expression was piercing as she muttered, “Prince Consort is a true hero and will not lose to a mere Chu Beijie.”
He Xia quickly laughed and turned to launch onto his horse.
The flag behind him flew in the sky. He Xia’s gaze looked around at the various officials before deeply studying Yaotian. The sole master of the country waved softly alongside the other officials, sending him off. He Xia noticed that it wasn’t his first experience of this kind of heroism and honour.
His opponent was still Chu Beijie.
But today, the sending party was not the King of Gui Le, He Su, and he was not departing from the capital of Gui Le. The country he was protecting was not Gui Le either.
The inseparable figure beside him was not Pingting either.
If he brought back Chu Beijie alive and imprisoned him in the Prince Consort Residence, then what would Bai Pingting do when she saw him?
He Xia’s gaze flickered towards all of the soldiers and generals, ready for departure. He held his sword up to the wind.
The sound of wheels and hooves began, slowly, as if trying to wake up the sleeping world with its regular rumbling.
Yellow mud flew.
From that point on, all of Yun Chang’s army finally belonged to He Xia’s hands. To counter Dong Lin, Yaotian had to leave no other reserves without hesitation.
The yellow sand and mud at the borders was soon to be wetted with blood, covering the entire plains with its scent. No matter how many people’s lives were sacrificed, the rage between him and Chu Beijie was a feud destined by the skies a long time ago. It had to come to an end.
He had to win.
From the back, the view of He Xia on his horse was proud and full of confidence.
Yaotian went onto the highest platform of the capital walls, sending off the figure of He Xia with her eyes.
As a famous general, he rose to places beyond her reach.
The wind was strong at the high points, causing the pendants on Yaotian’s coronet to sway without rest. It seemed to sway her own heart, hit by the whip of the strong wind.
“The Prince Consort will win. He will definitely defeat Chu Beijie.” Yaotian’s expression was relaxed.
The guards watched over her ten feet away. There had been many officials behind her at one time, but only the highest ranking Gui Changqing had climbed up with her.
Gui Changqing just stood behind Yaotian, the back view of He Xia also reflected in his eyes. It had already become a tiny dot, soon to disappear in the far distance.
Gui Changqing’s voice was low. “I always put all my confidence in the Prince Consort, but to fight a war for a woman is not worth it. Do so many sons of Yun Chang really have to be sacrificed to fight Chu Beijie’s army? Princess has seen many are young, hot-blooded men of nobles. If this pointless battle is not stopped, then how many of them will be able to return to the capital?” He turned to look at Yaotian. “There is not enough time. Has Princess decided yet?”
The strong wind seemed to get even stronger. It seemed like the faraway flag of Yun Chang’s Royal House was protesting with its loud fluttering sound. Yaotian took a deep breath of the wind before her face became serious, harsh with resolution. “I have.”
She turned towards the inner wall of the capital, searching and locking her gaze on the towers of the Prince Consort Residence. The Bai Pingting who could change the overall situation was imprisoned there.
The sound of the army setting off was a roar that shook the skies. Even the Prince Consort Residence had been able to catch a faint remnant of its sound.
Zuiju listened, laughing excitedly. “Miss Bai, He Xia has set off!”
Without a clever guy like He Xia around, escaping from the Prince Consort Residence with Pingting’s intelligence didn’t seem to difficult.
“What do we do now? Use acupuncture or medicine?” Zuiju tried to think of radical ways. “He Xia’s presence made us unable to take any action easily, so we don’t know the situation outside at all…why not do this, I’ll check the arrangement of the guards around the Prince Consort Residence as well as the roads outside. Sigh, if only we had a map of Yun Chang’s city. Perhaps there’d be a map in He Xia’s office? Why don’t we…”
“No need.” Pingting softly said these two words.
Zuiju didn’t understand. “No need?”
“No need to waste our own energy.”
“We don’t have much time. If we don’t quickly use this chance to escape, then you…” Zuiju looked left and right warily, lowering her voice, “They’ll see your stomach.”
Pingting looked down at her stomach that had yet to protrude. It brought back the gentle sense of motherhood. She couldn’t help but softly stroke it before saying to Zuiju, “How do you think the Princess of Yun Chang treats He Xia?”
Zuiju knew that Pingting’s question was not an easy one. She thought carefully, before replying, “I peeked out a few times when she came last time. She is very beautiful and suits He Xia. From what I see, she really cares about He Xia.”
“Indeed, she does.” Pingting nodded, “Ever since that time, I have never seen that Princess again as if she has forgotten my existence.”
Zuiju seemed to connect the clues but asked anyway, “Why suddenly mention her if it seems the two are unconnected?”
Pingting slowly shifted her gaze towards the ceiling. Her voice was brief and light, “The arrow has been clipped onto the string, drawn but not fired. It’s not that one doesn’t want to fire it but waiting for an appropriate time. The more she appears to not care about an existence, the more she actually cares.”
“She was waiting for He Xia to leave?” Zuiju lowered head and thought, realisation suddenly coming to her. “A wife’s jealousy is the most poisonous, not to mention that she is a princess. What if she decides to kill you while He Xia is away?”
Pingting confidently shook her head. “Even amongst jealous wives, there are stupid ones and clever ones. Yaotian is the Princess of Yun Chang who chose He Xia who had nothing apart from a worthless title from a foreign country out of all of her more familiar soldiers. She is undoubtedly not a foolish woman. She knows very well that He Xia painstakingly brought me here and cherishes me. If she were to direct my death, then their relationship as husband and wife is over. Not to mention, if I died, He Xia may temporarily refrain from attacking her, seeing that she is a Princess. But Chu…” She realised what she was going to say and abruptly stopped as the name almost came out of her lips. Pingting’s expression changed and she angrily closed her lips.
Zuiju had already understood her meaning anyway and continued the rest. “The Duke wouldn’t let her go.” She slowly sighed before saying, “The Duke has definitely gone against the King’s orders this time and decided to send troops to attack Yun Chang no matter what. That’s…still…giving up everything for you.”
“Don’t say any more.” Pingting suddenly stood up. She had intended to walk out but seemed to change her mind for some reason. She stood with her back to Zuiju, whispering, “What has our relationship have to do with soldiers? All of the blood spilled and the loss of human life in this upcoming battle between Dong Lin and Yun Chang are all the results of the sins between him and me.”
Zuiju sighed, upset and exasperated. “What on earth do you want to Duke to do then? What can the Duke even do?”
Pingting’s back seemed to stiffen at her words, slowly dragging out her words. “I don’t want anything and he doesn’t need to do anything.”
“Who was the one who swore to the other to always be together? Who said Bai Pingting couldn’t leave both the House of Jing-An or Chu Beijie?” Pingting cut off her words, her tone becoming very harsh. “I had been taught by the Duke and Duchess to be loyal, love your country, uphold your values and protect the moral good. What good has it done? People have to hold onto values and protect the moral good but can’t they live for themselves just once.”
She turned, looking towards the stunned Zuiju. She slowly said, “You all know that I am intelligent and know that intelligent people are always about reason, having reason in everything they do. Even if others are to ask a million whys, answers are always without flaw. Zuiju, I don’t care how wronged your Duke is or has a reason as big as the sky to why he couldn’t come back. I never want to hear his name again and never see his person either. I am not an official of the court and therefore not all of my decisions need to be logical to the end. I am a living person. Why should anyone else apart from me direct what I like and what I hate? I just want to live quietly with my child, is that wrong?”
Her voice was like a qin, clear and lingered in the silent room.
Zuiju couldn’t answer with a single word.
The best of both worlds was never possible. Chu Beijie could only choose one and he had chosen to protect the Royal House, chosen to hurt Pingting.
Then, he might as well continue to protect the Royal House.
He might as well let Pingting go.
Even though it was a strained decision, it was still a decision.
Even though it was strained, it was still a door to hurt. How could one’s heart not hurt with a wound?
Who was the one who swore to the other to always be together?
Bai Pingting was still a mere woman in the very end. Why should someone insist that she had to protect the moral good, uphold values and think for the best for the peasants of the country?
Even if an unreasonable man remained unreasonable for life, that in itself was perfectly reasonable. Yet it seemed the ones who were reasonable throughout their lives were blamed the most for just following their own heart for once.
The world was like that, more unreasonable than its people.
Seeing Pingting’s tearstained face, Zuiju suddenly understood.
She still loved Chu Beijie.
Deeply loved him yet deeply despised him.
She despised Chu Beijie for not fulfiling his promise, hated that they shared the same life, forever controlled by their values and the moral good and helplessly punished for trying to escape from it.
But before their values and the moral good, it was sadly very difficult to keep just an inkling of pure love.
What this gentle person wanted, what she so desperately wanted, was something she would never get.
If she couldn’t get it, she would abandon it.
Abandon it and never look back.
Escaping from Chu Beijie, escaping from the deep hatred for her country.
“Miss Bai, do whatever you want then.” Zuiju’s eyelashes were trembling as a teardrop of crystal fell from them. She raised her head to look up at Pingting, softening her voice. “It truly is amazing for one to make their own choice just once in their entire lifetime.”
As if agreeing, the final layer of melting ice on the outside of the window broke off.
Pingting’s gloomy expression wavered and suddenly knelt down, grabbing onto Zuiju.
Zuiju also tightly hugged her, biting her lip and stifling her sobs.
Do it, do it.
A person’s lifetime needed love, hate, decision and reason to fight for it.
To chase that uncatchable wind of the skies.
“Don’t be an intelligent person anymore.” Zuiju choked as she whispered into her ear.
Be a normal woman, a happy mother who no longer talks about their fears, a dear woman who upholded values and protected the moral good.
Everyone has the right to happiness.
Don’t worry about the fire of Dong Lin, the battles of Yun Chang. Go to somewhere far away and never look back.
Tell your healthy and beautiful child that people can make decisions for themselves.
That people, are capable of crying comfortably but are also capable of laughing loudly.
That people, are capable of being rational but are also capable of acting from feelings.
“Who was the one who swore to the other to always be together? You’re right.”
“A hurt heart is a hurt heart. Even if you say it’s to uphold values and protect the moral good, will the wounds on it disappear?”
On the day the Dong Lin army approached and the day He Xia departed from the capital, Bai Pingting and Zuiju held each other, bursting into loud tears.
This was the first time that they had cried unreservedly since coming to Yun Chang. They let out all of the tears from their hearts, freely venting all of them out.
The winter sun pushed away the clouds around it. It too sprinkled light unreservedly on the two. It understood that these two weak women desperately needed its power.
“We must get out of here.”
“Yes, we must.”
They nodded resolutely at each other, bathed in strong sunlight.
Pingting wiped away her tears and stood up once more. She seemed even more upright than before. Under the haze of the sun, she seemed to have a halo of many colours, resembling the glow unique to jade.
She had power and power was in her belly. There was a tiny life in there, and Bai Pingting could no longer afford to slack off.
She stood up straight, standing firmly onto the ground.
The servants outside the door called just at the right time.
“Princess Yaotian has arrived!”
Zuiju abruptly stood up and exchanged a look with Pingting.
Pingting sucked her lip and didn’t say anything. Several moments later she replied, “It was simply a matter of time. Better go welcome her.”
She then went out the door with Zuiju and saw that Yaotian’s maids had already paved the way for her. They quickly moved aside and bowed.
Yaotian had decided and immediately asked for Pingting’s location upon entering the Prince Consort Residence. She hadn’t said a word as she hurried over towards the garden, seeing Pingting in a deep bow in the distance. Her heart froze. Her footsteps slowed, studying the figure in the distance as she approached it. She then came to a calm stop in front of Pingting.
“Princess.” Pingting’s voice was gentle.
From a higher platform, she could only see Bai Pingting’s drooping neck, white and smooth.
Even though this woman was not beautiful, she was touching in another way.
Yaotian quietly watched her for a while, saying, “No need for excessive politeness. The Prince Consort told me to look after you when he left, so I have come to see you.” She said this while stepping into the room, her black eyes swirling around.
The room was well-furnished, and all of the equipped objects were all fine and polished. It did seem to befit for a mistress of a residence.
Yaotian chose a chair by the window, ordering, “You can have a seat.” She took the hot tea from Zuiju, her gaze falling on the guqin in the room as she took a sip.
Pingting and Zuiju knew that the main event was to come. Their expressions did not change except becoming more polite. Neither made a sound, obedient.
Yaotian saw enough of that qin before turning towards Pingting. A gentle expression came onto her face. “You were sick that day, so I left in a rush, only hearing songs without conversation. How have you been recently? Missing anything?”
“It’s all good.”
“Then…” Yaotian assessed Pingting’s expression, smiling. “Are you homesick?”
This question was a little strange; so was its tone. Zuiju’s heart thumped, revealing the colour of surprise.
Pingting also thought it was very strange. She knew that when He Xia left, Yaotian would let her live in the Royal Residence or some other place where He Xia couldn’t find her. As long as she was imprisoned anywhere else but the Prince Consort Residence, the guards would not know her strength and would relax their guard, meaning it would be much easier to escape. However, judging from Yaotian’s words, this was not the case.
A hundred thousand thoughts flashed through Pingting’s mind at that instant, but there was not a trace of them on her face. She softly replied, “Pingting is an orphan. What home?”
Yaotian was still smiling. “Then think of the Prince Consort Residence as your home, isn’t that a good idea?”
There seemed to be a hidden meaning in her words, as it certainly sounded suspicious.
Pingting heard this, her mind thinking up all sorts of impossible theories. She shook her head hard in disbelief and boldly laughed to Yaotian, meeting her gaze. The two people probed the other’s mind as sparks flew between them until they already knew what the other was thinking.
Yaotian had plans to make her leave.
How could that be?
But this was not a time for thinking. Time did not wait, and there was no second chance like this. Pingting gritted her teeth in secret and stood up from the chair before falling to her knees, without any explanation or warning. “Please decide for Pingting, Princess!”
Yaotian sat on the chair, lightly replying, “Decide what for you? Is the Prince Consort hurting you?”
“Master treats Pingting very well, but even though Master cherishes Pingting, he doesn’t know Pingting’s wish.”
“Pingting…has always wished to live freely, free from the troubles of the world.” Pingting looked upwards, her voice was sad. “The Prince Consort Residence has everything, but the tall, ornate tiled walls look like a huge cage to Pingting.”
Yaotian frowned, “You want to leave?”
“Yes, I beg Princess to fulfil my wish.”
“You are someone extremely cherished by the Prince Consort. How will I explain that I have freed you to the Prince Consort when he returns?”
“Princess and the Prince Consort are a family. With the love between husband and wife, what need is there for an explanation?” Pingting cleverly replied, “Master cherishes me, letting me stay at the Prince Consort Residence. Naturally Princess also cherishes me and has therefore released me. Both husband and wife is thinking the same and Princess has only approved of my release because of Master. How could Master possibly blame Princess? Princess, please fulfil Pingting’s wish.” She deeply bowed her head.
There was no trace of sound from above her head, but Pingting could feel Yaotian’s eyes fixed permanently on her back.
The fragrance of Gui Le in the room began to drift, gracefully whirling and dancing in the silent space above the people.
After a long pause, Yaotian’s voice finally appeared above her head. “We’re both women, so I won’t embarrass you even if you tell the truth. You still want to be with Chu Beijie, right? When you leave this place, you will go back to that man’s side, am I right?”
Pingting furiously shook her head, opening her eyes as she grinded her teeth. “Does Princess not know how Pingting ended up in Yun Chang? Is Pingting such as disgraceful woman who would shamelessly make her way back to that man?”
Yaotian was taken aback by her anger and hurriedly softened her voice. “Don’t be so agitated. I’m not suspecting you, it’s just that there’s something else that’s difficult to say. Get up first, we’ll continue talking afterwards.” She personally helped Pingting up, slowly saying, “Chu Beijie has assembled all the troops to attack my Yun Chang’s borders because of you. Will Chu Beijie really believe it if you leave? I’m afraid of him mistakenly thinking that we secretly executed you.”
“No need to worry Princess.” Pingting immediately replied, “Allow Pingting to write a letter and pass it onto Chu Beijie, so that he may know that I have already left.”
“That’s for the best.”
Undisguised joy appeared on her face, and she looked surprised. “So Princess is letting Pingting leave?”
Yaotian sighed. “What else can I do? The Prince Consort will be happy if you live well. Not to mention…how could I not choose the option that stops a great battle? When do you plan to go?”
“As soon as possible!” Zuiju heard the conversation of the two and was as excited as if the spring rain had suddenly come after a hundred years of drought. She couldn’t keep her excitement down any more and interrupted their conversation. Seeing the two’s gazes shift towards herself, she immediately lowered her head down immediately.
“She is Pingting’s maid, namely Zuiju.”
Yaotian studied Zuiju with her two eyes. “Say, why as soon as possible?”
Pingting’s heart began to skip ever few times. Of course the real reason wasn’t to be said but if she lied, it was unlikely to convince Yaotian’s eyes, a Princess who had dealt with national affairs before many officials. Yaotian’s question however, was clearly directed at Zuiju. The lie would be even more obvious if Pingting hurriedly interrupted.
If Zuiju couldn’t reply with a suitable reason, then Yaotian would become suspicious, causing the hope to immediately dissipate.
She couldn’t help look worriedly at Zuiju.
Zuiju stiffened at Yaotian’s words for a while. She then replied, without batting a lash, “Of course as soon as possible. The Prince Consort Residence is too stuffy, even buying rouge is troublesome. All maids of big residences have to go out some time. After all, there are all sorts of wonderful things on the market. Whether its tanghulu, crystalised sugar, rice nuggets, skill displays and the famous monkey displays, anyone but me can go. I had heard that Yun Chang has a stall that only sells watercolour paintings. The watercolour master would look at the expression on a girl’s face and use the brush in his hand to draw all sorts of designs that can’t be made with just flower petals and pollen. I bet it’s all very interesting. Even after getting to Yun Chang, I haven’t even gone out the big door once.”
This little speech came like crystal beads tapping as the fell into a jade bowl. It was said clearly and refreshingly, without any stuttering. Yaotian laughed at it, saying, “Silly girl.”
Pingting and Zuiju secretly sighed in relief.
Yaotian then asked Pingting, “What do you think?”
Pingting carefully replied, “It’s better if Princess decides.”
Yaotian studied Pingting for a while, a touch of grace flashing on her dignified face. After several moments of hesitation, she said, “Since it’s like that, then as soon as possible is fine. Write the letter and come with me to the carriage. I shall take you to the capital’s entrance.”
Zuiju hurriedly brought up a brush and ink.
Pingting walked to the table and placed clean paper before her. She dipped the brush in ink, raised her hand in midair when she suddenly stopped, sadness crossing her face. She didn’t lower her hand for a long time.
Zuiju knew what she was thinking and waited several breaths long until she could wait no longer. “Miss?” she asked, quietly.
Pingting slowly replied and bit her lip as she lowered her hands to write, not pausing at any time, until the paper was finished. She gracefully wrote her name in the corner and put down her brush.
Zuiju put away the brush and ink while Pingting carefully blew the letter dry and sealed it in an envelope. She added her signature on the top and handed it to Yaotian with both hands.
The letter had been written, as if putting an end to the Chu Beijie she knew.
The two had wanted to leave the Prince Consort Residence since their arrival and had long put thought into what they would bring. Not long later, Zuiju had already packed up their bags.
Yaotian waited for them to pack up properly and summoned a maid. “Prepare a carriage, I am leaving.”
With one hand supporting Pingting, Zuiju held the baggage in her other hand.
On the way out of the backyard, all the guards in the atrium were deeply shocked when they saw Pingting’s figure by Yaotian. He Xia was out on an expedition and had taken the many Jing-An Ducal residents with him, so most of the guards left behind at the Prince Consort Residence were Yun Chang’s men. They knew that it was Yaotian, their country’s Princess and knew not to offend her. Even a few of the bravest had taken a step forward to try to stop her anyway. How could they speak after seeing Yaotian’s inviolable-looking eyes?
The Prince Consort Residence guards watched Yaotian bring Pingting out the door, when they suddenly heard a clear male voice urging, “Princess, please slow down!”
Dongzhuo hurriedly came forwards from inside, with a small team of guards. He straightened after bowing respectfully to Yaotian and eyed Pingting. “I wonder where Princess is taking Pingting?”
“Why to the city entrance?”
Yaotian’s expression was neutral. “Pingting wanted to go for a walk and I have approved.”
“Does the Prince Consort know?”
“I will naturally tell the Prince Consort when he comes back.” Yaotian replied, “Please move.” As a Princess who had dabbled in national affairs, the power in her words were influential. Her cold words brought a chill.
“Princess, please forgive me! Dongzhuo has been ordered by the Prince Consort to guard the Prince Consort Residence. The outside is very dangerous so without the Prince Consort’s protection, she musn’t leave the residence.”
Yaotian angrily replied, “And you dare defy my orders?”
Dongzhuo bowed three more times, but his voice hardened. “If Princess wants to take away Pingting, then please kill Dongzhuo first.”
“How dare you!” Yaotian flew into a rage, challenging him to go further.
How daring could anyone act so rudely to Princess Yaotian in Yun Chang? Yaotian waved her sleeves and the guards that had come with her from the Royal Residence unsheathed their swords, gleaming with its cold light as it pointed towards Dong Zhuo and his group.
The atmosphere was very tense.
Dongzhuo still refused to move. He had received orders from He Xia and had been ordered to guard the Prince Consort Residence. No matter what, he couldn’t let Yaotian take away Pingting. He raised his head to look at the sharp tips of the swords, articulating clearly his words. “If Princess wants to take away Pingting, then please kill Dongzhuo first.”
Yaotian was furious, secretly shattering her teeth. However, Dongzhuo was one of the people He Xia had brought from the Jing-An Ducal Residence. Taking away Pingting had already taken a lot of effort, but if she were to kill one of his beloved men, how could she ever explain to him? She harrumped and coldly replied, “Even the Prince Consort doesn’t speak so rudely to me. How mighty brave of you.”
Dongzhuo wasn’t afraid of Yaotian and was about to retort back until he heard Pingting’s familar soft voice that drilled into his ears. “Dongzhuo, do you really want to stop me?” Her voice was gentle and made his heart ache.
Because of various unspeakable reasons, ever since Pingting had fell into He Xia’s hands, Dongzhuo had done everything to hide from her.
“Are you really that heartless?” Pingting’s voice was soft. “Dongzhuo, look at me.”
Dongzhuo lowered his head even further.
He was one of men from the Ducal Residence and had personally witnessed He Xia pushing Pingting to her limits out of jealousy, wrenching her away from Chu Beijie’s side.
He Xia had imprisoned her at the Prince Consort Residence but elevated her status to a mistress. Dongzhuo had been both afraid and doubtful. If He Xia’s jealousy towards Chu Beijie would not waver, then he may force Pingting to become his concubine. Knowing Pingting’s pride and arrogance, perhaps she’d be completely crushed by this as a result.
How could former playmates go to such extent to harm each other?
Ever since the murder of the Duke and Duchess, he understood less and less of the Master he had grown up with.
“Dongzhuo, raise your head and look at me.”
Dongzhuo turned away as if Pingting’s gaze was fiery hot, burning until cracks appeared on his skin.
So painful that it didn’t hurt any more.
Seeing no response from him, Pingting walked towards him, brushing away the sword points away. She held his hand.
The sudden touch, no matter how gentle, still sent a jolt through Dongzhuo’s body.
“Do you still remember that night when you sent me off?” Pingting asked with a whisper.
Dongzhuo clenched his teeth, muffling out his words several moments later. “I do.”
It had been after the King of Gui Le, He Su, had decided to execute the House of Jing-An, but Pingting had finally deceived Chu Beijie into a five-year truce of peace to Gui Le. It had been a great accomplishment but because of He Xia’s suspicion, she was forced to leave.
In the endless darkness of the night, he had watched the lone figure on the horse off.
Pingting faintly sighed. “Why stay when I shouldn’t?” She tightened her grip on Dongzhuo’s hands, softening her voice. “My dear brother, send off your sister once more, okay?”
It seemed as if Dongzhuo had frozen stiff. He couldn’t bear the expression on Pingting’s face as she pleaded. Then, the silence yanked out the many thoughts and memories that had been pressed deeply into his heart.
These two soft hands that held his could play very nice-sounding qin yet had been swept into the war, bloodstained and no longer innocent.
Dongzhuo raised his head and looked into Pingting’s eyes. He suddenly removed his hands from hers, turning away fiercely. He lowered his voice, “I didn’t see anything.”
Pingting was very saddened by this and watched him quietly. Zuiju had already begun to pull her by the wrist towards the door, overjoyed. “Hurry!” and then pushed her through it.
Yaotian really didn’t want to form a bad impression on He Xia’s people, so she was secretly overjoyed by this as she led the rest of her escorts to the outside of the Prince Consort Residence.
Once all were in their respective places, horse or carriage, they began to leave the Prince Consort Residence with a thunder.
“Here is some silver, please use it on the way.” Yaotian’s carriage had already been prepared with a bag of money and she ordered Zuiju to put it away carefully. She softly sighed and turned to Pingting, “A woman’s life is just no good. If you really can explore the earth without a single care for the rest of the world, as free as a bird, then you are indeed stronger than me.”
Pingting managed a smile. “With the Prince Consort with Princess, how could you not be stronger than Pingting?”
Yaotian did not know when she had been touched by her. She just sighed and didn’t say another word.
The three remained silent in the huge, elaborately decorated carriage. They quietly listened to the sound of the rolling wheels.
Not long later, the carriage stopped and a person reported from outside the curtain. “Princess, we have arrived at the capital entrance.”
Pingting and Zuiju came back to their senses, turning to Yaotian, slightly afraid that she would change her mind.
Yaotian softly replied, “You can leave.”
Pingting and Zuiju both bowed towards her. “Thank you, Princess.”
“I should be the one thanking you for your letter. With it, you have saved millions of sons of my Yun Chang.” Yaotian seemed deeply tired as she waved her hand, saying, “Go. I wish you all the best with no more suffering.”
Zuiju held the baggage with one hand, the other helping Pingting as she got off the carriage. The two stood at the city gates, watching the carriage disappear into the distance, slowly, like disappearing into the trance of a strange dream.
Zuiju lifted her head to look at the sun above her, before turning to the wide mud-caked roads outside the city gates. Her voice was full of disbelief as she whispered, “I can’t believe she really let us go and even brought us to the city gates.”
“It’s because there are a lot of people at the city gates, meaning that there will a be a lot of people willing to testify that Pingting walked out of the city at her own free will.”
Zuiju temporarily paused before asking, “What is Miss saying?” Her mind was keener than most and had quickly considered the options. Her heart began to beat furiously as she directed her inquiring eyes towards Pingting.
Pingting seemed to have smelled something dangerous too. Her expression was light, “It is still too early, not the right time to leave the capital yet. Let’s go see that Yun Chang market you mentioned back there.”
For that tiny life in her belly, she would have to be more careful than anyone else.