Presently, Hua Zhu Yu was in a very awkward state. Her clothes had slipped from her shoulder, exposing half of her fair shoulder. Her fine black hair cascaded down, spreading out messily on the carpet.
Da Qi dan Zhang Xi brought Hua Zhu Yu in front of Xiao Yin. Knowing resistance would only make her suspected as an assassin, she did not resist. Besides, she was no match for them at the moment.
“Lift your head!” Xiao Yin’s deep and cold voice came from above her head, her heart was in chaos, would she be recognized?
Xiao Yin, Zhang Xi and Da Qi had seen her before, but fortunately what they saw was not her real looks.
Moreover, she deliberately dressed up tonight. Thinking of this, Hua Zhu Yu slowly looked up. A pair of bright pupils quietly looked toward the man before her who grasped upon her life and death. The broad-robed Xiao Yin was reclining on a chair in a languid attitude, the deep purple pupils emitted captivating waves of light in the candlelight, but nevertheless unable to conceal their eerie coldness. He was staring at her!
“Assassin?” Xiao Yin stretched out an arm, his slender fingers lightly tapped on the long table beside him.
“No” Hua Zhu Yu answered. Though soft, the tone of the voice was firm.
Xiao Yin’s eyes narrowed in a smiling yet not smiling expression, the penetrating eyes trailed up Hua Zhu Yu’s fair shoulder to her slender neck and discernible delicate clavicle, lazily asked :
Your mother is the prostitute! Hua Zhu Yu silently swore at him, yet a smile blossomed on her face, sweetly replied “Yes.”
Under Xiao Yin’s burning stare, Hua Zhu Yu felt her face heating up, fortunately her face was thickly daubed with rouge, so no one took notice of that. Her slender, jade-like hand subconsciously raised, wanting to straighten her clothes, but halted halfway. As her “present identity” was a prostitute, such action would without doubt make her appear suspicious. Hua Zhu Yu unhurriedly lowered her hand. Secretly gritted her teeth. Xiao Yin, you better pray to Heaven, do not let you fall into my hand, or else I certainly will sell you into nian nu jiao of Liang Zhou (In modern times, Liang Zhou is called Wu Wei) where admitted male prostitutes. Your this kind of looks is absolutely popular there.
“Oh, (I) have to admit, your such trick actually has evoked Ben Dian Xia’s interest, but Ben Dian Xia has never touched prostitutes, especially the likes of you, in the future, you better do not do this kind of scheme again.” Those deep and tranquil purple eyes swept over her face, he casually said “But, tonight Ben Dian Xia is surprisingly somewhat in the mood for an entertainment, do not know what skill(s) do you have, Ben Dian Xia wants to see.”
Performing for him?!
In fact, Hua Zhu Yu was very good at playing zither, playing qi, singing, dancing, horse-riding, wielding swords, and shooting. Her father had her learned those skills. It was only that all these years she did not have chance to show her skills to people. She only played zither or sang for herself.
She had never thought the first time she showed her skills to people would be using identity as a prostitute and she was going to perform for the person who actually was responsible for her being a prostitute – Xiao Yin. She was really unwilling. Though unwilling, she had to do it, otherwise who would believe she was a prostitute.
Thinking that there must be no zither in Xiao Yin’s barrack, she smiled and said “Your Highness, this humble servant has none other than playing zither, it is still listenable.” She wanted to see from where Xiao Yin was going to conjure up a zither?
“Playing zither?” Xiao Yin’s long and narrow eyes sparkled in candlelight, just like dazzling amethyst ”Liu Feng, go bring Ben Dian Xia’s Rao Liang”
“Yes” a black-clothed imperial bodyguard answered.
After a moment, a zither was brought before her. Did not expect Xiao Yin really had zither, furthermore, it was a precious guqin (a seven-stringed zither). Hua Zhu Yu reached out to test its sound. Sure enough, the sound was distinct, clear and lingering, (she) had to admit, she was already attracted to this zither. Delicate fingers gently stroked the zither’s surface, lucid and exquisite pupils were lustrous, they emitted breathtaking splendor light. “Truly a good zither, worthy of the name Rao Liang(long resonance)!” she muttered.
“Prostitute, you also know this is a good zither?” Xiao Yin coldly said.
“In the end do you can or cannot play zither, this is our Highness’s hard-to-get treasure, all say this zither’s sound is pleasant to hear, Ben Jiang Jun has never heard, you immediately play a, let our highness and we all listen” Da Qi shouted up.
“That being the case, then your humble servant start playing right away, do not know what tune does Your Highness want to listen?” she extended her slender, jade-like fingers, resting them on the strings.
These Northern Dynasty people how could understand the beauty of sound. In the past, a musician called Gong Ming Yi played a tune for a cow, but the cow kept its head down, focused its attention eating grass as usual. Tonight, she too, was like that Gong Ming Yi.
“Play as you like, as long as not lascivious, corny tune!” Xiao Yin in his deep voice said.
“Then, your humble servant plays a tune: “转应曲” (Sorry, I can’t translate these words to english, I fail to understand the meaning, I already asked my teachers, they tried to explain it to me, but I just didn’t get it T_T). Finished saying that, Hua Zhu Yu reached out and stroke the zither’s strings lightly.
Xiao Yin’s men stumbled upon that zither and brought it to him as a present. It was said that it was Southern Dynasty’s famous zither. He could see this zither was indeed not ordinary, but could not tell what was special about it.
He once fiddled with the zither, felt the sound produced by each string was about the same, frankly speaking, it was not as good as their Northern Dynasty’s huqin (a type of chinese bowed string instruments).
However, hearing Hua Zhu Yu’s zither-playing at this moment, his impression completely changed, did not thought this prostitute could actually play zither.
“Zheng zheng” the sound of the zither, Hua Zhu Yu closed her eyes, unexpectedly the scenes of her wedding night, the captivating red moonlight on Mount Yu, Jin Se’s miserable cries and Da Qi’s attempt to assault her emerged before her. She was overcame with emotion, the tune of her zither-playing abruptly changed, it was no longer that mellow “转应曲”.
Xiao Yin’s pupils shrunk, the bright pupils kept staring at Hua Zhu Yu’s hands, finding it somewhat incredible. The tune could not be said pleasant to hear, but made him feel unexplainable tremor and melancholy.
The rhythm gradually got louder, it rose momentarily and then suddenly it fell dramatically.
“Pa” the zither’s string unexpectedly snapped, catching people off guard. Hua Zhu Yu’s mind momentarily went blank. Blood dripped from her fingers, yet she did not feel even a little bit pain. Da Qi yelled at her for playing a bad tune and broking the zither. Hua Zhu Yu snapped out of her trance at Da Qi’s voice. She quietly smiled at these people’s ignorance.
She lifted up her eyes and looked at that cold-blooded, ruthless man, Xiao Yin. Surprisingly he was not angry at all, looking at her with interest, he asked: “What is your name?”
Hua Zhu Yu felt a chill run up her spine. She casually replied “ Liu Yun.”
“Starting tonight, you do not need to be a prostitute anymore, just be Ben Dian Xia’s personal zither prostitute. Go ba, Hui Xue, you take her withdraw ba.” With a wave of his hand, he instructed a maid who was standing in attendance.
“Thank you, Your Highness!” Hua Zhu Yu saluted, thanking him.
Still could not evade this ‘prostitute’ word!
Hua Zhu Yu was then brought by that maid into a small, private red tent.
The next morning she woke up, the whole army‘s soldiers all were packing up. The air inside the camp was cold, solemn and heavy.
Hua Zhu Yu learned from Hui Xue that the army wanted to march southwards. Since they had decided to start a war, naturally would not take the prostitutes along. Yet, Xiao Yin ordered her to go with the army.
If she were staying behind with those prostitutes, she would be able to wait for a chance to escape. Now that she had to go with the army, the chance of escaping was not that big, but she might be able to catch a glimpse of her father and to find a way to let him know that she was still alive.
Early spring, the sun hanging high in the sky, sent out galvanic radiance, although bright and beautiful, dazzling, but it was cold without temperature. The army set out at Xiao Yin’s command. The earth shook with the beating of horses’ hooves.
Neither carriage nor horse was prepared for Hua Zhu Yu. She was wrapped in a sack with the upper part of her body being left exposed. The ropes that held the mouth of the sack were tied to the waistband of the man who rode the horse, so she was in half stood, half crouched position alongside the horse. The sack was pulled along as the horse was running.
In fact, she could endure all of these, the only unbearable thing was that the rider was that hateful Da Qi.
Along the way, constantly there were long, dry, celery wormwood hit her face and body. The pain was like being whipped. This journey undoubtedly was a torture for her.