World of Hidden Phoenixes 13 – 14 (Summary)

Chapter 13

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 :

“Prostitute?”

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.

*****

 

Chapter 14

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.

zither prostitute?!

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.

*****

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World of Hidden Phoenixes 11 – 12 (Summary)

Chapter 11

The days passed very quickly. Though no one came looking for Hua Zhu Yu, those were not easy days for her. It was very awkward for her to stay in the tent when Zhu Xiang was serving her guest.

Today, having reached the end of her forbearance, Hua Zhu Yu rushed out of the tent. Outside, no Northern soldier was guarding her tent. It seemed that Xiao Yin simply did not care or maybe had completely forgotten about her. This was a good thing, yet also a bad thing. It showed clearly that Xiao Yin determined to wage war against Southern Dynasty.

Judging from the size of the camp, she estimated this time, Xiao Yin brought a force of approximately two thousands men with him. When he came to Xianwang’s rescue, he had already kept precautions in his mind. Apparently Xiao Yin, this man, was not a foolhardy.

It was almost dusk, the sky was dyed with blue and orange. Hua Zhu Yu walked around in the camp. The camp was located below a high mound. Looking at the camp’s surroundings, it would be very hard for her to escape. Moreover, although the red tents were not guarded, there were soldiers patrolling inside the camp. It was not even easy to get out of this camp.

Wandering along the shores of a lake, Hua Zhu Yu immediately caught a patrolling soldier’s attention. After some talk and warning, she went back to her tent.

Back to her tent, Zhu Xiang’s guest had gone. Zhu Xiang sat on her bed, was counting her money and then gave some to Hua Zhu Yu. Hua Zhu Yu smiled and took the money. Since she wanted to flee, she would need money later.

After two days, Hua Zhu Yu already knew the terrain of this camp quite well. From a sergeant who came looking for Zhu Xiang, Hua Zhu Yu learned that Xiao Yin would bring his guards out tonight. Thus, she decided to flee tonight.

She came out of her tent, dressed like a prostitute. She learned from Zhu Xiang that some high-ranking sergeants would not go to red tents, they often called the prostitutes to go to their tents. She could just use this as an excuse in case she was found out by the patrolling soldier(s).

Even though Hua Zhu Yu did not have internal force now, still, she was agile. She successfully dodged two patrolling soldiers and arrived at the stable’s side.

Her eyes roamed the stable and finally settled on a horse. It was a rare, good horse, really well suited to her needs. She wanted to run away so much she actually forgot one a thing. This kind of horse usually recognized its master.

She took that horse out of the stable and when she tried to mount the horse, it suddenly lashed out at her with its hind legs. Fortunately, Hua Zhu Yu reacted very fast, she rolled on the ground to dodge the horse’s kick. Then, she jumped to her feet and was about to approach the horse again to tame it when she suddenly heard a sound of people talking.

Hua Zhu Yu’s heart chilled. She must not be found at the stable or else the excuse she had prepared could not be used and she would immediately be tied back.

Her eyes swept around the surroundings and saw two carts parked beside the stable. On the carts were several barrels, the scent of wine faintly emanated from them. Hua Zhu Yu opened one of those barrels and found it empty. She immediately climbed into that barrel and then closed it after that.

For now, she could only wait for the two people who spoke just now to leave and then get out of the barrel afterwards.

Unexpectedly, they came toward the carts. One of them said hoarsely “This time, the wine is truly worthy of its name, the taste is truly good.”

“Shh, don’t speak carelessly again, if his highness knows we drink this wine, we will lose our heads!” Another man whispered warily.

Suddenly, Hua Zhu Yu felt the barrel in which she was hiding shook. Those men unexpectedly lifted the barrel.

*****

Chapter 12

While lifting the barrel, the two people chatted. Hua Zhu Yu learned from them that this wine was sent from Northern Dynasty’s capital city. The wine would be brought into the storage tent.

Hua Zhu Yu remained curled up, did not dare to move even a little bit. When the barrel was put down and they went to again take another barrel, that was the chance for her to get out of the barrel.

Soon, the barrel seemed to be placed on the ground. Hua Zhu Yu was waiting for both of them to leave when she heard a sound of footsteps came over and someone asked “Is this the wine that just sent over tonight?”
That man then ordered the two to carry the barrel and follow him.

The wine barrel jolted Hua Zhu Yu, apparently, it was again put down on the ground. The sound of orderly footsteps grew distant, it seemed that those men had retreated.

Silent

No movement was heard, it seemed nobody outside.

Hua Zhu Yu quietly lifted up the lid of the barrel a little, squinted her eyes as she looked outside. It was a big tent. The tent was gorgeously furnished. There was a reddish brown long table with a bronze incense furnace on it. The incense furnace which was engraved with vivid and life-like dragon faintly sent out a wisp of smoke that gently curled upwards.

Whether it was in Southern Dynasty or in Northern Dynasty, besides emperor, only crown prince who could use things carved with dragon. This must be Xiao Yin’s tent. Her heart chilled slightly.

Her eyes swept around and found no one inside the tent. Just when she was about to climb out of the wine barrel, suddenly she heard a burst of multiple footsteps approaching the tent. Hua Zhu Yu hurriedly closed the barrel lid over herself again and listened closely.

The footsteps already entered the tent. Obviously there were several people there but no one spoke, making the atmosphere very intimidating.

“Zhang Xi, bring out the topographic map.” An indifferent voice with a hint of coldness spoke.

Xiao Yin, he returns so soon.

“Yes, Your highness!!” a slightly familiar voice answered.

“Your highness, is Marquis of Ping Xi, Hua Mu, really that difficult to deal with?” A loud, rough voice asked. It was Da Qi’s voice.

“Hua Mu is indeed not easy to deal with, but now he is missing a capable man, his army’s strength weakens a lot. So, we might have chance of winning.” Xiao Yin said lightly.

“Your highness, who are you referring to?” Da Qi asked.

“His highness is referring to a young general in Hua Mu’s army, Silver Face Asura, Ying Shu Xie. A man in his platoon who named Sha Po Lang is a gallant fighter. Moreover, it is said that, along with his 4 guards who called Ping, An, Kang and Tai, if the enemies troops meet them, will never be safe and sound.” again, another unfamiliar voice spoke.

“Is that Silver Face Asura very formidable, let me take care of him.” Da Qi exclaimed.

“I am afraid you don’t have that chance in your lifetime! He was already defeated at the hands of Zhang Xi. He is dead. It is just that, Zhang Xi, I am skeptical, has he truly been killed by you?” that voice said doubtfully.

“Humph, not even able to beat Zhang Xi, what Silver Face Asura” Da Qi scoffed coldly.

“Indeed, he was hard to deal with, I was merely lucky to be able to defeat him.” Zhang Xi said in a low voice. In fact, until now, he still did not quite believe he had killed that white-robed young general.

“Even though he is gone, but his subordinate, Sha Po Lang, a vanguard in Hua Mu’s army, still is not easy to deal with” Xiao Yin said. Changing the topic all of a sudden, he asked “What is that?”

“It is a fine wine which just arrives, it is said that it is newly brewed wine from royal winery, so this subordinate then orders people to bring it over to your highness, does you highness want to try? It is said that it is really delicious.” Zhang Xi explained. A sound of footsteps came toward Hua Zhu Yu.

Hua Zhu Yu’s heart sighed. What a bad luck, really can’t hide anymore. This Xiao Yin, studying topographic map, then just study the topographic map, drink what fine wine?

Suddenly, a bright light hit her eyes, the barrel lid was already opened.

“*surprised* Who are you?” a maid who opened the lid was unexpectedly quick-witted, she pushed the barrel. Hua Zhu Yu had no enough time to stand up, the barrel already fell, she rolled out of the barrel. Subsequently, she heard a sound of swords drawn from their sheathes. Countless swords were already placed on her neck.

“It is indeed a fine wine ah” Xiao Yin’s voice came coldly from behind. Cold, murderous tone could be heard in his voice.

*****

World of Hidden Phoenixes 9 – 10

A lot of things didn’t go according as what I wished, what I thought, what I planned… Everything seems to go wrong in my life right now… *sigh*

At first, I thought, after so busy and tired working overtime at the beginning of January, I would take one day leave from office to have a rest properly, read some novels, edit my translation of WOHP. But, I never thought after being tired physically then I will be exhausted mentally. I have some problems with my family. I feel so exhausted that I even so lazy to give an explanation. I am feeling so down lately and have no mood to do more editing in my translation. Usually, I edit my translation 3 times before I post it. I only edited chapter 9 & 10 two times and don’t feel like doing it for the third time. Rather than leaving you, readers waiting for my mood to be better which I don’t know when it will be, I decide to just post it now  ^_^

———————————————————————————————————————

Chapter 9

Red tent

No one understood the significance of these two words more than Hua Zhu Yu.

She once angrily charged into red tent, ordered the officers and the soldiers who were seeking pleasure inside at that time to come out and they each were punished with 20 hits. She also tried to send all those prostitutes away.

However, her father as an army’s marshal did not agree with her action at all, saying this was men’ needs. Besides, those prostitutes unexpectedly did not want to leave, instead they knelt, begging to stay, said that this was their way to earn a living, did not want her to cut off their livelihood.

These women were actually willingly and gladly using their bodies to make money, and even somewhat enjoyed it.

She really pitied them.

Today, Xiao Yin actually wanted to throw into red tent?

“Crown prince, even though she is not Wen Wan, not the crown princess whom crown prince takes a fancy, nevertheless she is daughter of Marquis Ping Xi, she comes from Southern Dynasty, her body is frail, continuously needs to take medication, this woman, how could she live in our Northern Dynasty?” Xianwang hurriedly walked up to the crown prince, and tirelessly persuaded him “Crown prince, it is better not to be impetuous, should never send the Princess into red tent ah! She is daughter of Hua Mu ah!”

“Royal uncle, no need to say anymore!” Xiao Yin turned around and looked at Hua Zhu Yu who was lying leaning over the ground, vomiting the wine. His mouth curled cynically down at one corner, “The two of you, still not taking her away!”

It seemed that Xiao Yin was not only angry over Southern Dynasty’s setup this time, but also the replacement of Wen Wan with her, which he must feel so humiliated. if it were Wen Wan whom he took a fancy that came, he would not treat her this ruthlessly.

Hua Zhu Yu coughed again a few times, two maids came towards her, one on her right side and the other on her left side, helped her get up.

On the way, constantly there were soldiers looked gloatingly at her, said in a low voice “humph!, Southern Dynasty actually plotted against our crown prince, do they think we are afraid of them? Look at this Southern Dynasty’s princess, who comes for marriage alliance, she is sent into a military prostitutes’ tent as soon as she arrives here. Tonight, we go to red tent to have fun, have a taste of this Southern Dynasty’ princess to see what is the difference from our Northern Dynasty’s women.

Hua Zhu Yu remained calm listening to those soldiers’ words, no a single trace of emotion in her clear, cold eyes.

Not long, several tents with red-colored top came into sight, the two maids brought her into one of those tent, showed her a bed and then they left.

Hua Zhu Yu sat on the bed, she frowned as she was sizing up her surroundings.

It was a two-person military tent with a cloth curtain separating its two beds. In barracks, this could be considered as a low class prostitutes tent, because the highest ones were all one person-tent.

Obviously there were people on the other bed, there were sounds of man and woman gasping for breath could be heard, a silhouette of their bodies tightly wrapped around each other swaying could be seen vaguely through the cloth curtain. Clearly, there was a prostitute serving a guest.

Hua Zhu Yu closed her eyes, lied down on the bed. Many thoughts flitted across her mind, swift as lightning. Now, what should she do? How to get away the imminent humiliation?

The wine began to take effect, her whole body was heating up and she felt dizzy. Last night, she was buried in snow for a day. Originally, her body was already stone-cold. She would certainly fall ill. The wine that Xiao Yin forced her to drink unexpectedly saved her.

This wine was actually very strong, but Hua Zhu Yu was pretty good at drinking, so she did not get drunk. In a daze, she was lying down. The gasping sounds gradually ceased and there was a sound of footsteps.

She opened her eyes and saw a man was carrying pants, went out of the tent.

“Girl, are you a newcomer? What is your name? I am Zhu Xiang.” A woman gracefully came out from behind the cloth curtain, straightened out her garments while asking in slow tone of voice.

She looked to be in her twenties, good looking, and was wearing a misty pink embroidered cotton skirt. Her hair was tied in a loose, messy bun. A pearl hairpin was inserted diagonally in her hair, somewhat tottering.

“Aiya, girl, why is your face this dirty? Could it be that you are a prisoner of war? But, don’t hear the crown prince goes to a war ah. What on earth happened to you? I bring you water to wash up, okay!” Zhu Xiang said in surprise.

“No need!” Hua Zhu Yu said coldly, she did not want to freshen up yet, her current appearance might be able to scare off those men who came to seek pleasure.

“You are like this, which man is willing to come looking for you. Now that you are here, you need to think of a way to make some money. Although we are provided meals in barracks and were given monthly allowance each month, but those men who come to seek pleasure will reward us money for our service every time they are done. In time, it is no small amount of money” Zhu Xiang advised Hua Zhu Yu softly at her side.

Clearly, this Zhu Xiang had been doing this job for not a short time.

“I don’t want to make money at all, I’m sorry, I am somewhat tired.” Hua Zhu Yu closed her eyes, lying down on the bed.

“Then, have a good rest, girl!” Zhu Xiang was actually tactful enough, she returned to her bed.

Night came very fast.

In this still vast wilderness, the wind came blowing from far North was like sound of ghost wailing and wolves howling, made people who listened to it could not help shivering. The cold wind got into the tent through its small cracks, it was extremely cold inside.

The effects of the wine had subsided gradually, with no internal force to protect her body, her body started to get cold, however , Hua Zhu Yu no longer felt soft and weak all over. She began to have some strength, and gradually could move around.

Hua Zhu Yu’s mind was in utmost perplexity, it had been unclear to her what poison Ji Feng Li actually gave her and what antidote should she use to cure the poison. But now, she was mysteriously cured of the poison without taking any antidote. From last night up until now, she hadn’t had anything other than the wine that Xiao Yin forced her to drink.

Could it be that the wine cured her of the poison? The antidote was actually this simple?

Hua Zhu Yu remained perplexed despite much thought when she heard a sound of footsteps outside. The sound approached theirs tent.

Hua Zhu Yu’s heart tensed. Zhu Xiang who had no more guest tonight was already asleep on the other bed.

She hoped those who came to seek pleasure not looking for her.

The tent door was knocked heavily. Hua Zhu Yu heard a man’s loud shouting voice “Open the door! Woman from Southern Dynasty, still not coming open the door and serve me!”

*****

Chapter 10

The knocking sound was very loud that it woke Zhu Xiang up. She lit a candle, draped an outer robe over her shoulders and was about to go open the door when bang sound was heard. The person outside could not wait already, he kicked the door open.

A tall figure barged in to the tent.

“Oh my! So it is, it is …. Right Military Officer Da Qi …. you…you…” The smile on Zhu Xiang’s face suddenly turned somewhat stiff, her speaking was also somewhat unsmooth.

Previously, Zhu Xiang was all smiles as she greeted her guests, she looked rather unusual right now.

Hua Zhu Yu coldly swept her eyes at that person. On this cold night he had only a robe draped over his shoulders, exposed his bronze skin as well as his mountain-like, heaving muscular chest. A long scar on his right face looked particularly hideous in the candlelight. No wonder Zhu Xiang was somewhat fear this man called Da Qi. In just a single look could be told that he was not a kind person. Even Zhu Xiang who had been accustomed to being an army prostitute was reluctant to serve this kind of guest. However, this person clearly came looking for her.

Since she was sent to the red tent, Hua Zhu Yu was aware that there would be one day she had to come across this kind of situation, but did not expect it would be this fast. These people really did not give her breathing space at all.

How to deal with him then?

This person apparently was one of Xiao Yin’s high ranking military officers. He had this fierce, austere demeanor. His movements were brisk. He must have been a valiant general on battlefield.
She had not recovered her internal force, no difference from ordinary people. She was not his opponent.

That man scowled at Zhu Xiang, pushed her away and strode to Hua Zhu Yu’s side.

“Are you that Southern dynasty’s princess who came for marriage alliance”? he arrived at the front of Hua Zhu Yu’s bed, stretched out his sturdy arm and pulled Hua Zhu Yu out of the bed. Leaning over the dim candlelight, he sized her up like a wild wolf watching its prey.

Hua Zhu Yu did not put up a fight, she had not found a chance to strike. Holding back disgust in her heart, she endured the smell of wine coming from the man’s mouth, endured his stripping scrutiny.

“Such a dirty face, oh, this skin is truly smooth ah, though nothing great about it, hehe.. hehe… *chuckle* but, ben da ren does not mind.” The man’s calloused fingers touched Hua Zhu Yu’ face, feeling her creamy skin for a moment. He then relinquished his grip, threw her on the bed, took off his robe, and proceeded to take off Hua Zhu Yu’s garments.

The garments on Hua Zhu Yu’s body was Jin Se’s. It was the ones that Jin Se switched with her.

The sound of garments being torn were like thunderclap in Hua Zhu Yu’s ears.

Jin Se was humiliated in such a way on that day.

Sadness were like ice, turning her heart into a frozen lake. Anger were like fire, igniting a piling up of gunpowder in her heart. When the ice was replaced by the fire, she quietly pulled a hairpin out of her hair, clenched it tightly in her palm that she felt a sting in her palm caused by the hard top of the hairpin.

For the first time in her life, Hua Zhu Yu felt that her previous self was somewhat haughty and arrogant, why she did not prepare herself an easy to carry, self-defense weapon? Now, could only rely on this merely a silver hairpin.

Actually, she did not want to kill people, she had no choice but to do it because she had to keep on living.

This da ren, don’t be so impatient ….” Facing the man, Hua Zhu Yu smiled sweetly. Her low voice was slightly husky, gave off an irresistible charm.

Her sudden smile dazzled the man, he was just staring blankly at her.

Smiling gracefully, Hua Zhu Yu raised her slender, jade-like hand and caressed the back of the man’s head, slowly slided down to his nape. Unaware of the danger, the man leaned over to kiss Hua Zhu Yu’s face. Hua Zhu Yu thrusted the silver hairpin in her hand to his nape.

“Argh” The man wailed, his tall figure rolled off the bed onto the ground. Hua Zhu Yu hurriedly approached his body, sealed his acupoints and pressed the hairpin against his neck where his pulse beat.

The hairpin was not sharp enough, which otherwise was sufficient to kill him just now.

The man was so angry that his were wide open, looked at this seemingly weak woman in disbelief.

“You…you… have the cheek to raise your hand against me, what do you want to do?” a pair of his eyes glared angrily.

Yet, Hua Zhu Yu smiled languidly, the pretty red phoenix eyes¹ curved slightly, gleaming waves in her eyes flowed like clear spring water. That smiling expression was especially gentle and graceful, without a single trace of kiling intent could be seen.

¹Eyes whose outer corners incline upwards

And yet, Da Qi felt an indescribable sense of fear rising up inside him.

He believed that this woman before him definitely could kill him smilingly. He, Da Qi, was not nobody in military, though he was not afraid to die, but today to be immobilized by a woman, was a great shame for him!

His veins were popping out of his forehead in anger as he roared like a leopard “You…you… this whore, I will kill you, I will kill you…”

Hua Zhu Yu pressed the hairpin even tighter against his neck, at once blood gushed out of Da Qi’s neck, his shouting voice lowered in an instant.

“Shout again, believe it or not, once I put forth some strength, you will shut up immediately?” Hua Zhu Yu said in a dull tone, her lucid and exquisite pupils were very cold, like bottomless deep pond with cool mist that encircled it “I come for marriage alliance, am given to your crown prince. Nominally, I am still you crown prince’s woman. The relationship between North and South was very bad at present, thus will your crown prince send me to here. But no one can tell for sure that one day the misunderstanding between the two dynasties will be cleared up. When the time comes, your crown prince certainly will get me out of here. Then, what is the end for the likes of you who have come here?”

Da Qi was stunned. Tonight, he dared to come here because his men egg him on. Moreover, he has drunk some wine, thus was somewhat impetuous. Now, hearing Hua Zhu Yu’s words, he was suddenly struck with fear.

Although he had been with Crown Prince Xiao Yin for so long, he still unable to understand his temper. This woman was tossed into a red tent, but nevertheless she was the crown prince’s woman ah!

“I, Da Qi, sweared by Heaven, absolutely will never again come bother Princess, I go back and order my men absolutely not allowed to come!” he said firmly.

Hua Zhu Yu squinted her eyes to look at him and saw regret in his eyes. Knowing that he did not lie, she untied his sealed acupoints.

Clutching his bleeding neck, Da Qi got up from the ground. He threw Hua Zhu Yu an angry glance and went out of the tent.

“Are you truly that princess who comes for marriage alliance? You are really awesome ah! Even General Da Qi is being docile and obedient” Zhu Xiang said admiringly.

Hua Zhu Yu was not a little bit happy, she did not know, after driving Da Qi away, would there be other people who came looking for her? Next time, what should she do?

*****

World of Hidden Phoenixes 8

Chapter 8

Although Hua Zhu Yu was saved, she did not get good treatment.

After they had come down the mountain, the guard put Hua Zhu Yu down, tied up her hands and stuffed her into a sack on the cold man’s order. Once the sack’s mouth was bound, she could not see anything. Then, he tied the sack onto a horse’s back like she were just a thing.

Shortly, the horse started to run, ran very vast, its rider did not slightest care about her. Hua Zhu Yu bumped on the horse’s back, many times she was unable to breathe, and nearly fainted.

Unbeknownst to her how long they had traveled, sound of horses’ hooves galloping gradually slowed down, gradually people’ voices sounded.

Hua Zhu Yu was carried on a guard’s shoulder down the horse’s back, she heard that guard’s voice asked “Your majesty, what should we do with this woman?”

“Take a look first whether she has died!” a man said faintly, there was bone-chilling coldness in his voice, just like this Northern air, so cold that it made people shiver.

The guard opened the sack’s mouth, took Hua Zhu Yu out of the sack. The sudden bright light caused her to close her eyes instantly.

After a moment, she slowly opened her eyes. She was in a state of total disarray that her original looks could not be told anymore. The blowing wind carried along Northern cold air, ruffled her hair. Her face was smeared black and dirty, her hair sprawled messily. Only a pair of black clear eyes exuded a brilliant radiance.

They were in a gently sloping field, there were hundreds of tents linked up into a single stretch. Constantly, there were Northern Dynasty’s soldiers came out of the tents, they did not speak, all looked respectfully towards the man before her.

Hua Zhu Yu was very familiar with this kind of scene. Clearly, this was actually a place where an army quartered.

“A pair of pretty eyes, but… it is a pity.” The man in front of her narrowed his eyes and sighed lightly. Only now Hua Zhu Yu could see clearly this man who stood on a high slope last night. He wore a purple cloak and was casually standing there. He had tall stature. Carving-like handsome face, a pair of long eyes slightly closed, revealed a glimmer of brilliant purple color.

Purple eyes?!

That pupils of those eyes were just like high grade ice jade, the brilliant purple color added a touch of charm. If the icy cold aura that he gave off and a hint of mockery in his cold smile were overlooked, this man was truly a feast for the eyes.

Unfortunately, his natural icy cold, hard to get close aura made people could not help but overlooked his outer looks.

Who is he?

Hua Zhu Yu recalled someone called him ‘your majesty’ just now, then this man must be Xiao Yin, the crown prince of Northern Dynasty, the man whom she was going to marry.

Hua Zhu Yu had heard about Northern Dynasty’s crown prince before.

There was a talk widely spread among the people about South White Phoenix, North Purple Roc, West Ashura and East God of Fortune. These four were well known as being peerless in martial arts.

Xiao Yin, the crown prince of Northern Dynasty, was the north purple roc. (I’m really not sure I translate the other three correctly, so rather than delay my update, I just leave it for now)

At that time, Hua Zhu Yu scoffed at it, what four peerless men, how many people were there that truly worthy of their names. Just took her as an example, her reputation was out-and-out fake, so they must also not be necessarily really peerless.

But, at this very moment, it appeared that this man, the purple roc before her, truly had a peerless master demeanor.

Hua Zhu Yu’s scrutiny surprised Xiao Yin. He did not expect that this woman’s nerve was actually not small, he had never seen people who dared to look at him straightly this way before.

He brought a spear in his hand up to Hua Zhu Yu’s chin, narrowing his eyes, he scrutinized her, shiny tip of the spear reflected together with brilliance in Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes and made her black pupils shone even more brightly. Xiao Yins’ wrist moved slightly, the sharp spear’s tip scratched Hua Zhu Yu’s chin skin, a drop of blood dripped down the tip of the spear.

Xiao Yin frowned. Such delicate skin, this is a woman of Southern Dynasty?

“Crown prince, don’t act rashly. Even though this time we fell into Southern Dynasty’s scheme, but as long as the princess is not dead, perhaps this matter still can take a turn for the better.” xian wang said with a deep note in his voice.

“Royal uncle, you have always been soft on Southern Dynasty, but you also have seen that Southern Dynasty has been eyeing us, Northern Dynasty. The matter this time is merely a pretext. Even if we can avoid it this time, they still won’t let us off next time. Why not meeting the enemy head on, are we, Northern Dynasty, afraid of them?” Xiao Yin spoke coldly, withdrew the spear from Hua Zhu Yu’s neck.

Hua Zhu Yu became alarmed on hearing that, if Northern Dynasty determined to wage war against Southern Dynasty, was she be able to stay alive?!

No!
She could not die.
She wanted to live, there were still many things she needed to do! Hua Zhu Yu thought.

“Crown prince….” Hua Zhu Yu began to speak, and at once found her voice so hoarse that she felt terribly uncomfortable. She did not drink a single drop of water for one day and one night, the corners of her mouth had long been chapped, her voice had long been hoarse.

“What crown prince said is right, Southern Dynasty has an ambition, but…. *cough* *cough* *cough* *cough*” Hua Zhu Yu kept coughing. She was speaking disjointedly for a long time “Presently, It is better to avoid war, you know very well that you stand no chance of winning war at this time. I may be able to help you avoid this war …*cough” *cough* *cough*….”

Xiao Yin lowered his head and stared at the woman whose both shoulders were shaking with a violent cough, he held out his hand and someone hurriedly brought over in both hands a wine pouch made of cowhide. He opened the wine pouch, a strong fragrance came out of the pouch’s mouth.

Reaching out, he pinched Hua Zhu Yu’s mouth open and poured the liquid from the wine pouch into her mouth. This seemed to be Northern Dynasty’s special milk wine. It was salty and fishy. It carried pungent fragrance of wine.

The wine filled her mouth too fast and choked her, white liquid came out of her nose and she felt an unbearable pain, but Xiao Yin did not stop nevertheless. He grasped her hair firmly and continued to pour the wine. Finally, he was willing to stop when Hua Zhu Yu could drink no longer that the wine dripped out of her mouth and nose.

He leaned toward her slowly and gave a faint smile. This cold man’s smile actually had indescribable charm, only that there was a hint of mockery that could make people shiver in that smile.

“Ben wang¹ is not afraid of war, also doesn’t want to avoid it. Also, you may rest assured, even though you are not the woman whom ben tai zi² takes a fancy to, even though you are only a substitute, but ben tai zi won’t let you die.” Finished speaking, he smiled faintly, and then left while coldly commanding “Come, send her to red tent.”

¹ and ² This is how Xiao Yin refers to himself, wang means king, tai zi means crown prince,.

Xian Wang could hardly believe his ears, crown prince actually wanted to send the princess to red tent? But that red tent was the place for army prostitutes, is that possible…?

*****

My Comment

So, that is our another male lead in this novel, *facepalm* not any better than Ji Feng Li.  At first I thought ‘how I am going to continue read the story with this kind of male leads”. Sometimes I give up reading because of unlikeable main male or female leads. Then, I decided to give a chance to Xiao Yin (I am not sure I get the name right) , not Ji Feng Li, well I’am unfair here .

World of Hidden Phoenixes 6 – 7

Chapter 6

A mist in the mountain had dimmed vision, yet Hua Zhu Yu’s mind was suddenly crystal clear like a bright mirror.

This was obviously a killing conspiracy.

The relationship between Southern Kingdom and Northern Kingdom had not been harmonious. After taking control of West Borderland (Xi Jiang), perhaps emperor already intended to conquer Northern Kingdom. Unexpectedly, Northern Kingdom proposed a marriage alliance to establish a peace between the two kingdoms which would hinder emperor’s ambition.
Common folk longed living in peace, if there was no reason for war and the emperor insisted to engage in a war, he would lose support from them.

However, if she were assassinated once she was out of Southern Kingdom boundary, this would surely stir a huge uproar. Undoubtedly, Southern Kingdom would point the finger at Northern Kingdom. At that time, it was justifiable to dispatch troops to war with Northern Kingdom.

She was not replacing someone to marry, but to die.

Initially, Wen Wan was selected by Northern Kingdom’s envoy to be the bride, later someone should have known the emperor’s ploy, not willing to let Wen Wan die, thus she, Hua Zhu Yu was made a sacrificial lamb.

The person who knew the emperor’s ploy was perhaps Chancellor Ji Feng Li.

In Southern Kingdom, Hua Zhu Yu was known as a young lady who was unvirtuous, talentless and unappealing. If people were given a choice to choose between Wen Wan and Hua Zhu Yu, certainly they would choose Wen Wan, the first best young lady of Southern Kingdom.

Furthermore, she was daughter of Marquis of Ping Xi, Hua Mu. If she were to die, her father undoubtedly would be furious. He would lead a punitive expedition of Hua household’s army into Northern Kingdom to revenge her death. The fighting on the battlefield would be even more bold and fierce.

Hua Zhu Yu really admired this scheme of Emperor and Ji Feng Li.

It was not that she held no hatred in her heart but she did not have free time to think about this at the moment. She needed to think how to deal with her imminent assassination conspiracy.

After figuring all of this out, Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes were limpid and cold, not only she showed no sadness, but she looked even calmer. She, Hua Zhu Yu, was not just sitting and waiting for death type of person.

“Jin Se, you tell the guard who is driving the carriage at once that I am somewhat feeling unwell and need to take a rest, get him report to Xian Wang, do not let the troops enter canyon, rest for a while.” Hua Zhu Yu said to Jin Se in a low voice.

Jin Se went and did as she was told. Before long, the troops halted, turned out they stopped just right before the canyon entrance.

“Miss, what is the matter with you actually?” Jin Se asked, her eyes full of concern.

“Jin Se, don’t panic, there is someone wants to kill me, we must escape from here” lowering her voice, Hua Zhu Yu said. “Lend your arm to support me, we get off, don’t let anyone follow us, for a moment think of a way to look for a hiding place, hide first”.

The only idea for now was to hide.

Since the Emperor had determined to kill her, the Sergeant of Northern Kingdom certainly unable to protect her, because the Emperor was perfectly clear about number of Northern Kingdom troops assigned to escort the bride. The number of assassins sent certainly sufficient to work smoothly. Moreover, that grizzled, bearded Xian Wang was not skilled in Martial Arts.

Hearing that, Jin Se was startled, her face went pale white, almond-shaped eyes opened wide, she did not say a word, took Hua Zhu Yu by the arm and assisted her down from the horse carriage.

Thinking that Hua Zhu Yu needed to relieve herself, the guard let them go and tactfully did not follow them since this was not the first time they asked him to watch over and they went by themselves.

Jin Se supported Hua Zhu Yu while they walked a few paces, they turned toward cliff, Jin Se bent down, carried Hua Zhu Yu on her back and used her qing gong. The summit was covered with lingering snow throughout the year. A creaking noise sounded as they stepped on it, cold wind hit their faces. Mountain road was rugged and craggy, icy air chilled them to the bones.
The snow below their feet suddenly slid, the two people were rolling down the hillside.

They heard a sound of horses neighing coming from behind. In this dark and gloomy night, the sound was particularly ear-piercing. There was a scent of blood on the night wind, drifting from a distance. Clearly, the assassins who were hiding in the valley before had started moving.

Jin Se got up from snowy ground, was about to carry Hua Zhu Yu on her back and run again.

“Jin Se, don’t run, the moonlight is clear and bright tonight, they will discover us right away, find a place to hide first.” Hua Zhu Yu raised her eyes and looked into the distance, only to see steep mountain roadside, there was a patch of short shrubbery next to it.

Jin Se looked at a thick snow mantle before her eyes, bit the bullet, all of a sudden, her hand reached out and started taking off Hua Zhu Yu’s clothes.

“Jin Se, what do you want to do?” Hua Zhu Yu asked sternly.

Jin Se did not say a word. She again reached out her hands to remove a phoenix coronet on Hua Zhu Yu’s head.

Hua Zhu Yu suddenly understood what Jin Se wanted to do but she was powerless, unable to stop her, could only looked on helplessly as Jin Se changed her own clothes with Hua Zhu Yu’s wedding dress.

“Jin Se, don’t be stupid…” before Hua Zhu Yu could finish her protest, Jin Se sealed her mute acupressure point.

The night grew later, full moon was hanging upon the horizon, its light was clear and bright like water, enfolded Jin Se who wore head-to-toe red. She smiled slightly, her eyes were misty, she sniffed back the oncoming tears.

“Miss, that time, if it were not for you, Jin Se would have been abused to death by the rogues earlier, all these years Jin Se have been taken under your care. If miss encounters difficulty, Jin Se certainly should help. Hiding in the mountain can only avoid them temporary, not escape the assassins’ pursuit. Only if Jin Se disguises as Princess to die, they will stop the pursuit.” Jin Se slowly said, took a pendant off her neck and put it around Hua Zhu Yu’s neck.

“Miss, Jin Se has been wearing this thing since I was small. It is a family keepsake. Jin Se’s greatest wish is to reunite with my family. This wish, Jin Se asked Miss to fulfill it for Jin Se.” Jin Se said as she carried Hua Zhu Yu into a deep gully. Then, she continuously scooped some snow and sprinkled it on Hua Zhu Yu’s body. In a moment, Hua Zhu Yu was buried in deep snow.

Icy chill in the air was often overwhelming, yet it could not be compared to cold despair and desolation of her heart.

Jin Se

Jin Se…

Hua Zhu Yu’s lips kept opening and closing, trying to call out that name but no sound was coming out.

A clump of snow fell into her slightly opened mouth, trickled down her throat, seeped into her heart. She felt suffocating pain as if an invisible hand had grabbed her heart. She tried to reach out her hand, wanted to brush away the snow covering her body but it was futile.

Amidst a sound of chaotic footsteps could be heard faintly someone shouted “over here, the woman is over here!”

Howling wind, sound of people fighting, sound of swords clashing, soon after followed by a nasty laughter.

“Boss has given us a pretty good task ah, look at this delicate skin and fair complexion, look at these charming eyes, tonight we are really lucky.” A boorish man said.

*****

Chapter 7

Tonight, we, brothers are really lucky. We can get a taste of a young lady of capital noble family, haha…” another man said.

Even though Hua Zhu Yu was covered in snow, she still could hear wicked lust in that voice.

Her surroundings were icy cold, yet Hua Zhu Yu’s heart was burning with flame of anger.

She tried to exercise her qi¹ but her dan tian² was completely empty and she felt unbearable sharp pain in her meridians³, as if they were to explode at any time, her internal force was no more. Not willing to accept it, she tried again once more time. A burst of cold qi slowly rose inside the dan tian, in split a second it flowed all over her body, and her limbs weakened even more as a result.

¹Energy flow / life force energy.
²Natural center for human body’s qi.
³经脉 Jin Mai : any of the channels through which qi is believed to circulate round the body.

What poison is this? It is same as tendon weakening except it cannot be removed.

Hate!

She had never hated a person like this before.

She hated Ji Feng Li!

She also hated herself. She should not have let Jin Se follow her. She should have let her together with Tao Se go back. Jin Se’s martial arts were no match for the well-trained assassins.

Jin Se….

Don’t you touch her, don’t you hurt her!

She opened her mouth and was yelling in vain. Her lips were trembling violently, the sealed mute acupressure point caused her throat to issue no clear voice other than a coarse crowing sound. Both her hands were trembling, tried hardly to brush away the snow covering her, little by little.

At last, there was a bit of chilly moonlight before her eyes, she could finally get her head out of the snow blanket, but then she heard Jin Se’s miserable cry. A twinge of pain struck Hua Zhu Yu’s heart, and suddenly, blood gushed out of her mouth.

The white snow in a split second was stained red, looked like plum blossom blooming in the snow, chillingly beautiful. Her body was shaking all over incessantly and the pain in her heart nearly suffocated her.

Jin Se….

She is just a servant girl, she is innocent, why does she have to suffer such humiliating and brutal treatments for her.

Why!?

She strived to crawl out of the deep gully, however, she had no strength left, she only felt her weak body was light as a feather. The icy cold of snow remnant covering her melted, soaked her clothes and froze her conciousness….

Didn’t know how much time passed, she was awakened by a faint sound of people speaking.

“Your highness, there is one person still alive here, hey, it is a woman” said a man’s voice, surprised.

Hua Zhu Yu felt herself was being dug out by a pair of arms of the snow. Hua Zhu Yu just realized then, she was unconscious before.

How long have I been unconscious? How about Jin Se?

Hua Zhu Yu’s breathing suddenly grew hurried, chilly moonlight shone on her face, the black eyebrows-coloring mark on her left face was soaked by melted snow, her face was smeared black, under the black color was actually deathly pale.

Her line of sight swept over some people there and landed on distant snowy ground.

Not a soul in sight there, only blood. Dark red blood and snow blended together.

Under rays of moonlight, that scene was striking and horrifying.

That was Jin Se’s blood.

Hua Zhu Yu felt her head spinning, everything before her now seemed to appear bloody red. At once, the round bright moon seemed to be brilliant red. That was distorting red, shattering red and maddening red.

Red light and shadow flitted across Jin Se’s delicate and pretty face.

She didn’t have any siblings, in her heart, Jin Se was like a sister to her. Although Jin Se was always indifferent and appeared aloof, but only she knew, in her heart was so warm. Even though she encountered misfortunes since she was still a child, she never resented heaven and laid blame on others4. On the contrary, she was kind-hearted, many times, she helped starving beggars.

4Yuàn Tiān Yóu Rén 怨天尤人 Blame everyone and everything but oneself.

She is only seventeen years old ah!

Jin Se is in the prime of her life

cannot see her anymore, cannot see her soft, shallow smile, cannot hear her cold and indifferent words

Tears blurred Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes.

Jin Se died for her!

“Who are you? Are you Princess Mu Yun or that servant girl?” a voice asked uncertainly.

Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes widened as she was taking a clear look at the person who just spoke.

Over 50 years of age, a grizzled beard was stained red, likely blood. A pair of bright piercing eyes were looking at her, filled with anticipation.

This is….?

“Wangye, could it be that you have never seen the princess?” an imperial guard beside him asked cautiously.

“According to Southern Kingdom’s customs, the bride’s wedding veil is meant to be removed by the bridegroom in the bridal chamber, therefore Benwang have not seen her” that Wangye who stood before her said calmly.

It seems this person is Northern Kingdom’s xianwang.

He is actually not dead?!

That’s right, to put a blame on Northern Kingdom for this assassination, xianwang must not die.

“You are Pincess Mu Yun, right?” Xianwang stepped forward hurriedly, asked anxiously.

In her ears suddenly sounded a cold snort that sounded like indifference, sounded like arrogance, sounded like disdain….

Hua Zhu Yu slowly turned her head, only to see a man stood on a hillside, tall stature was wrapped in chilly moonlight. He gave off an endless cold air that caused people affraid to get close. His face was hidden in moonlight shadow, could not be seen clearly, only felt a pair of shining intimidating eyes, his majesty and imposing arrogance.

He stood there in a high and mighty manner, like a monarch overseeing his people.

“It is not good to stay longer here, save the person first and talk again after we return.” The man spoke with deep and low voice. The faint tone was like a light wind that brushing gently, but it could freeze just like frost.

Hua Zhu Yu opened her mouth to speak, still no sound came out, and when a guard at her side saw this, he lightly patted her body, unsealed Hua Zhu Yu’s acupressure point for speech.

“Don’t go, (I) beg you to find her, must save her” Hua Zhu Yu crawled on snow-covered ground.

It was the first time in her life, she felt low as dust. For the first time in her life she was begging for a favor.

Even if Jin Se was dead, she still had to find her, she could not let her corpse be left in this desolate hill. This was the only thing she could do for now.

The man heard her plea, the intimidating eyes dully swept over her body, chilly gleaming waves in his eyes were like river streamed, yet the eerie coldness of his eyes could not be concealed. This kind of imposing look gave people a feeling of suffocation.

He merely casted a glace at Hua Zhu Yu, coldly commanded his mans “You don’t take the person to leave quickly.” finished saying that, he turned and left.

The guard picked Hua Zhu Yu up off the ground, carried her on his back, and went down out of the mountain.

Looking at the moon, she chuckled as tears were streaming down her face.

Jin Se, I cannot do anything for you now, but one day I will settle this account for you.

*****

World of Hidden Phoenixes 4 – 5

Two chapters for this time. I shortened chapter 4 and 5. Some parts were summarized.

Chapter 4

Hua Zhu Yu woke up to find herself in a luxurious and elegant room. She knew she was in palace now. Tao Se, her dowry maid, was waiting on her there. She was confused and sad that emperor again suddenly issued a decree, and this time ordered her miss to marry a crown prince of Northern Kingdom.

Hua Zhu Yu still felt weak in her whole body. Except for being powerless, there was not any other symptom of poisoning. It seemed that she was fed with tendon weakening powder, probably to prevent her from refusing to marry Northern Kingdom’s prince and causing a ruckus.

Hua Zhu Yu asked her whether she had any news about her father but Tao Se did not know since in the palace news was kept strictly.

Outside the room, a young palace maid reported to Hua Zhu Yu that Aunt Qing Luo requested an audience with her and Hua Zhu Yu let Aunt Qing Luo came in. Aunt Qing Luo was a not too old palace maid, she seemed around thirty something years. She was ordered by emperor to help Hua Zhu Yu dressed up since Northern Kingdom’s envoys had come to pick her up and they were going to leave immediately.

Seeing her looks, Aunt Qing Luo was a bit surprised at first. Hua Zhu Yu was ugly, but Aunt Qing Luo did not say anything and acted normally. Yesterday, Hua Zhu Yu’s grandmother had Hua Zhu Yu dressed up prettily but on a sedan chair, she secretly painted a black birthmark on left side of her face. Originally, she planned to use this to play a joke on Ji Feng Li, but now, this fake birthmark which made her looks ugly could be used to fool the emperor. Knowing that she was ugly, he might cancel this marriage. Thus, Hua Zhu Yu only allowed aunt Qing Luo to do her hair only and did nothing to her face and clothing.

A sedan chair was already waiting outside. Tao Se and a few palace maidservants helped Hua Zhu Yu to get into the sedan chair. The sedan chair was carried to front gate of the palace. Emperor, empress, civil and military officials were there. Hua Zhu Yu was helped by Tao Se to step down from the sedan chair and bade farewell to the emperor and the empress.

Probably, the empress already heard news of the ugly birthmark on Hua Zhu Yu’s left face. She did not permit Hua Zhu Yu to lift open her bridal veil. She told Northern Kingdom’s envoys that bridal veil was one of marriage customs in Southern Kingdom. It was only meant to be removed by the bridegroom in the bridal chamber, otherwise it was inauspicious, and misfortune would befall on this marriage. This was an important marriage to secure an alliance between the two kingdoms, they naturally complied.

Hua Zhu Yu did not dare to act recklessly since she had not got any news on her father. Thus, this event ended peacefully. Tao Se helped her again to get into a carriage that had been prepared by Northern Kingdom.

Ministry of rites sent 500 soldiers to escort Hua Zhu Yu. Along with Northern Kingdom’s envoys, they went westward, out from Yu Town. In the evening, they arrived at Yuncheng District and spent the night in a biggest inn there.

After she finished having a dinner, Hua Zhu Yu leaned on the back of a couch. She did not know what drug was fed to her by Ji Feng Li. Tendon weakening powder wore off after twelve hours. Now, twelve hours had passed but she was still so powerless, did not know whether this drug could bring harm to her body or not.

She was about to lie down on the couch to rest when suddenly there was a sound coming from window. Someone climbed into the room. Tao Se was so happy to see that person, Jin Se.

*****

Chapter 5

Jin Se was also a Hua household maidservant. Unlike Tao Se who was a child of maidservant in Hua household, Jin Se was bought on street. Hua Zhu Yu was only five years old at that time. She went out to take a walk on the street with her grandmother. They saw a few rogues were whipping a little girl. That little girl was around six or seven years old. She wore ragged clothing, her hair was unkempt and there were bruises on her face and body. She was then bought by Hua Zhu Yu’s grandmother from the rogues and brought back to Hua’s residence. Because she did not tell her name or anything about herself, grandmother then named her Jin Se and let her became Hua Zhu Yu’s personal maidservant. They both grew up together and had a close relationship. After Hua Zhu Yu left Hua’s residence, Jin Se was then serving her grandmother. All these years when Hua Zhu Yu was away, and a young lady of Hua family was required to attend banquets, Hua Zhu Yu’s grandmother would let Jin Se disguised as Hua Zhu Yu. Thus, Jin Se had been very low key. However, this unexpectedly led to Hua Zhu Yu’s reputation as a nameless, lack of talent and no virtue young lady.

Jin Se believed and blamed herself that this led Hua Zhu Yu into current situation. Hua Zhu Yu, of course did not blame Jin Se, this had nothing to do with her. Seeing her so sad, Hua Zhu Yu lied to her that she paint an ugly birthmark on her left face and that scared Ji Feng Li.

From Jin Se, Hua Zhu Yu finally got news of her father and grandmother. Her grandmother already knew she was going to marry the crown prince of Northern Kingdom. Her grandmother was very sad and worried that she sent Jin Se to take care of Hua Zhu Yu. Hua Zhu Yu’s father might not have known about this marriage yet. After he sent Hua Zhu Yu off to marry Ji Feng Li, he immediately left for west border under emperor’s decree.

Tao Se was so stubborn that she was unwilling to return to capital and left Hua Zhu Yu. Hua Zhu Yu had Jin Se tied Tao Se up and then asked Xian Wang¹ of Northern Kingdom to let Ministry of Rites Sergeant to sent Tao Se back to capital. She did not want Tao Se to suffer with her in Northern Kingdom since it was uncivilized territory and had a frigid weather. Actually, she wanted to send both Tao Se and Jin Se back but now she was powerless and having no one to accompany her would not be good. Although Jin Se was not highly skilled in martial arts but it was still better than Tao Se who had no martial art skills at all.

                    ¹ This how brother of Northern Kingdom’s emperor was called. He was the crown prince’s uncle.

After half a month, they finally arrived at Yu Mount, a boundary between Southern Kingdom and Northern Kingdom. The five hundred soldiers of Southern Kingdom only escorted Hua Zhu Yu up to this point, and then they went back to capital.

Based on her personality, Hua Zhu Yu would have fled partway to Northern Kingdom. However, she could not afford to do that, her father and grandmother would be implicated. Moreover, her martial arts was not recovered yet so she was not be able to escape. Jin Se had tried to unseal her internal force many times but always failed. She suspected this was caused by the poisoned wine that she drank. She really hated Ji Feng Li for this.

After walking for almost one day, Northern Kingdom’s envoys decided to camp in the mountain. They were going to cross the mountain tomorrow early in the morning. After crossing the mountain, then they would be in Northern Kingdom. That night, It was extremely quiet there. Hua Zhu Yu had an uneasy feeling that something terrible was going to happen. Formerly she would not feel afraid. Perhaps, that because her internal force was sealed and she was still in weak state.

She told Jin Se to lift the carriage curtain. She took a look at the surrounding area and she felt cold in her heart. In military perspective, apparently, this place was most suitable for an ambush. Surely, this marriage was not so simple just a marriage, but it was a conspiracy. This was game of chess. She was part of it, an important pawn necessary in this game.

*****

World of Hidden Phoenixes 3

The two maidservants at Hua Zhu Yu’s right side and left side could not help but tremble from fear, thought that this person made them felt uneasy for no reason.

“Miss Hua also has something to say, does Miss Hua want to defy the imperial edict?!” Chang gonggong asked in an unpleasant tone.

If she had been able to disobey the edict, she would done it. However, Hua Zhu Yu knew she could not afford to do that. Her father, Hua Mu from Ping Xi, was loyal and devoted to this Northern imperial court, if she fails to comply imperial edict, the first one who want to execute her is not someone else but her father. Perhaps, because this kind of blind loyalty, emperor would be able to treat them, Hua family, this way. Her father was stationed in border region. Because the border region was still unstable, the emperor did not let him return to capital for ten years. This time, Hua family’s army succeeded in defeating Western Liang. Western Liang was left with no choice but to make peace by offering its five great cities. The entire country celebrated this and Hua family asked for many rewards. The emperor had no choice but to allow her father to return to capital and honored him a title of Marquis of Ping Xi. She, this nameless, lack of talent and virtue daughter of Hua Mu, was also granted an enviable marriage.

Now, the emperor again all of a sudden decreed her to go and marry, this matter is really complicated and she cannot understand at all, but sooner or later she is going to investigate it throughly. Presently, she still needs to discuss the matter with her father to make a decision. However, they wants her to accept this imperial edict now? It is not so easy.

Hua Zhu Yu made up her mind and said in a light tone: “Chang gonggong, now your servant is no longer Miss Hua but Madam Ji, does not know whether this imperial edict should be accepted or not? Your servant and Chancellor Ji’ marriage was also decreed. If your servant accepts this edict, does not it mean your servant goes against the sacred edict, your servant really does not what to do.”

Chang gonggong was rendered speechless. He did not anticipate that Hua Zhu Yu would say this. The emperor did indeed issue an edict to bestow a marriage upon her before. The emperor should annul the first edict before granted her another marriage decree, but that will make the emperor go back on his words.

Chang gonggong was somewhat awkward, hesitating over whether he needs to return to the palace to request for another imperial edict or not. However, emperor will blame him for being incompetent in handling this affair. In the midst of confusion, he spotted Ji Feng Li, put on his ingratiating smile and asked cautiously “Xiangye, you see….”

Ji Feng Li was looking at the burning red candles, his eyes were dark and liquid like ink, and they were shimmering elegantly. He looked back toward Chang gonggong, faintly smiled and told a maidservant who was standing near him “Bring an ink brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone here.”

The maidservant left hurriedly and soon returned with a tray that held a writing brush, ink stick, paper and ink stone in her hands. She moved cakes and pastries on a table aside, spread the paper there, put some water into the well if the ink stone, grinded the ink stick on the surface of the ink stone, and handed the writng brush to Ji Feng Li.

Ji Feng Li took the writing brush and dipped it into grinded ink and started to sway the brush on the white paper. Before long, the white paper was filled with black ink words.

The ink on the paper had not yet dried, the maidservant picked it up. She blew it gently and then put it in Hua Zhu Yu’s hands.

A snowy white paper, black ink words.

His handwriting was bold, unrestrained, vivid and lively. It was so elegant that Hua Zhu Yu really admired it.

Unfortunately, this was a piece of divorce certificate.

Hua Zhu Yu gazed at two big words of divorce certificate written on the paper before her eyes, a chilly smile touched the corner of her mouth, her prideful eyes flashed a trace of sadness.

Indeed, in life, troubles should be expected. It did not occur to her that someday, she, Hua Zhu Yu would get a divorce certificate.

This Ji Feng Li was indeed worthy to be an Imperial Chancellor who gained the favor of the Emperor.
By divorcing her, she was unbound from Ji Feng Li. This allowed the Emperor to decree her to marry Northern Kingdom’s prince. The previous imperial edict did not need to be discarded this way so that no one will say the Emperor reneged on his promise.

“Indeed, worthy of being an Imperial Chancellor, the handwriting is really beautiful, Hua Zhu Yu is very honored to be able to get a valuable calligraphic work of Chancellor Ji. Hua Zhu Yu will surely treasure it.” She said in a lazy voice with admiration in her tone, not a trace of insincerity could be heard it seemed like she was really fond of Ji Feng Li’s handwriting.

There was no one in the room who did not feel amazed. Normally, If other woman was put in this kind of situation, she would cried, got angry or hysterical.

However, she did not cry, get angry or even have a complaint.

is this woman stupid? Why is she so calm? They thought.

“Sorry to trouble jiejie to help Hua Zhu Yu accepts the imperial edict, and Hua Zhu Yu thanks jiejie in advance.” Hua Zhu Yu smiled and said to a maidservant at her right side.

Hearing that, the maidservant reached out her hands to take the imperial edict from Chang gongong and then shoved into Hua Zhu Yu’s sleeve.

“Please, Princess Mu Yun, stay in palace temporarily tonight, tomorrow early in the morning, the Northern kingdom’s envoy will come to the palace and pick Princess Mu Yun up.” Chang gonggong spoke. He changed so fast that now he addressed Hua Zhu Yu as Princess Mu Yun.

The maidservants who were brought by Chang gonggong from Palace came over and held onto Hua Zhu Yu’s arms to help support her.

With a divorce certicate tucked in one sleeve and an imperial edict tucked in another sleeve, head covered by red veil, Hua Zhu Yu left the room.

She could not move and no one helped her to lift the veil.

Even if she had been able to move, she still would not lifted her veil. She did not want to see these people.

Outside the room, snow was still fluttering intermittently. The red veil was being blown up occasionally, allowed Hua Zhu Yu to see the courtyard which was decorated with big red lanterns and double happiness words. Nevertheless, she could not feel festive atmosphere. In contrary, she felt those red colors looked like blood that shined with a harsh bright light.

Hua Zhu Yu took a deep breath, pulling the chilly air into her lungs. She was shivering from the cold.

This was her wedding night.

An unforgettable night in her life!

The two maidservants helped Hua Zhu Yu to get into a sedan chair. The sedan chair was then lifted by imperial guards and headed toward the Imperial Palace. Hua Zhu Yu sat down on the sedan chair, felt a stinging pain in her knee gradually fading as the effect of poisoned wine getting stronger. She stumbled and sank into darkness.

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Note: I make some changes because I think it is more appropriate:

Previous Chapters  ↓  Chapter 3

Beijing                         =  Capital

General (Ji Feng Li) = Imperial Chancellor

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