Chapter 11 – Through Life or Death, Your Hand Will Stay with Mine
Kirindas: Didn’t expect the cheer for yuri, lol!
Staring at the closed door, the princess’ face gradually turned as red as ripe apples. She and I stood awkwardly in place for a long moment.
“Ahem…princess, I shall call him back quickly, ba. As for other matters, let’s discuss it when we get back. So, why don’t you have a seat first?”
“Yes, you go ahead,” she straightened her clothes and sat down.
I opened the door and saw that brat Wei Qi was just standing there, he winked at me with an evil smile on his face.
“Oh, are you guys done!? That was way too quick, ah. I really didn’t expect you to have this kind of hobby!”
“I, I, I, Wei Qi, things are not as they seemed, and, don’t just jump into random conclusions.”
“Xiran, to explain is to obfuscate. It’s all fine with me, let’s just chat for a bit. That young master there was is the one that you rescued before, right? No wonder he looks kind of familiar. Come on, introduce me quickly.”
After getting one of the waiters running for some tea and snacks, I invited Wei Qi into the room.
Once all three of us were seated, I opened my mouth.
“Well, let me make the introductions. This is p- hem, Young Master Mu, you remember him as the young man we rescue that time, but he’s still unconscious then. Young Master Mu, this is Wei Qi, my childhood friend. We grew up together as neighbours and are as close as brothers. He was where when we rescued you.”
“Oh, so it’s Young Master Wei, Xiran often spoke of you. Now that we finally meet, I hear that you now carry the title of Best Scholar of the Year. Since Brother Wei also has a hand in my rescue, allow me to express my gratitude properly. With this tea in place of wine, allow me to thank you most graciously.
The princess’ expression was perfectly normal as she raised her teacup. Thankfully, the princess was quick to react under any situation, otherwise… I dabbed at the sweat that had suddenly popped up on my forehead.
“Hahaha, Young Master Mu, it’s just a small matter, not worth mentioning at all. I have you to thank for taking such good care of Xiran. Otherwise, I really don’t know how to explain to his mother.”
Hearing Wei Qi mentioned Mother suddenly made my heart ached uncomfortably. It had been six months since I have left home, but I have yet to send even a letter to her. I’m just too unfilial.
“Wei Qi, once you get back home, please find out how my mother is. It’s been half a year, but I don’t even know how she is. Also, the fact that you managed to achieve Best Scholar of the Year is something I just found out recently. As a brother, I’m too lacking. Once you’re back in the city, I promise to throw a proper party to celebrate, all right?”
“Xiran, relax, I’ll definitely look out for your mother. I’m sure she misses you too. I’ll most likely be back real soon, when that time comes, please invite Young Master Mu as well. If the three of us could get together properly, I promise to forget all the past resentment, hahaha!”
After that, we chatted a bit more. The atmosphere in the room was quite casual and pleasant. We continued to talk until night fell. Since Wei Qi had to leave for our home town tomorrow, he excused himself first.
Once he left, the princess and I did not linger either, the hour was getting late after all. We prepared ourselves to leave the restaurant and headed for the imperial palace.
When we came out of [Ju Xiang Ge], there was no sign of Xuan’er, but I did manage to exchange a few words with some of the restaurant staffs.
It’s full dark now, but with the night market in full swing and private houses hanging up their lanterns, the streets were really bright and lively.
Of the people moving about the night market, there were frolicking children, couples in love and people from all kinds of places gathered. Horse drawn carriages, carts and stalls all contributed to a bustling scene. Shopkeepers called out from their shop entrance, small time paddlers with their wares stacked on their shoulders. There were jade accessories, rouge, perfume, amulets and, of course, snacks of all kinds for sale… we past temples, matchmaking tables, a wedding tree…
“Look, isn’t it lovely when everything is all peaceful like this?” said the Princess as she strolled beside me.
“Of course, thanks to the wisdom and foresight of our emperor, the citizens could enjoy a peaceful and prosperous life. Princess, just look…” My eyes caught on a pair of lovers holding hands, and another arm in arm, they looked very loving an intimate, filling me with envy.
I waited until our eyes met and I snagged her fingers in mine. She was stunned, but did not reject my hand, instead, her gaze grew thoughtful.
Perhaps, she was wary about being observed in such a crowded street. Awkwardly, I let go of her hand and hurried my steps, walking a little ahead. I had gone a mere few steps when a warm hand clasped mine. She walked up next to me, and laced our fingers together.
I looked at her stupidly, she cast a smile at me and continued to stroll along.
Voices, conversations followed us, they had to be talking about us.
“Look at that, two young masters strolling together hand in hand.”
“Wuwuwu, what a waste. They’re such handsome guys too. Why not let me, the one whose looks is liken unto flowers, have one? Could it be that the heavens have prepared another, even hotter guy for me in the future?”
The princess and I turned at this statement, we just had to look. The speaker was a girl whose looks was…really liken unto flowers
The princess and I did our best to suppress our laughter and moved away from their line of sight.
After that, we were less concern about who saw us. Our eyes only have each other, and we only have each other in our eyes.
I held her hand as we continued to stroll on, until we reached a small snacks vendor. Pausing, I asked her to wait for me and not to move away. That there’s something I had to do first, and to wait for me. She did not question me, but bid me to return quickly.
As a matter of fact, I had just remembered that there was an old store that sells all kinds of accessories just ahead. Since I have yet to give her any love tokens, I intended to fix this oversight quickly.
Upon entering the store, a small red sandalwood comb at the counter immediately caught my eye.
Seeing that a customer had entered his shop, the shopkeeper came fawningly up to me.
“Young master certainly has a good eye, this is a gift for a love one, ba. This is the highest quality red sandalwood comb in our humble shop, made by the best craftsmen available. Not to brag or anything, but you won’t be able to find an identical red sandalwood comb of this quality anywhere in this entire city.”
“Oh, really? Something that can’t be found even in the imperial palace itself. To think I have such discerning taste. Then, shopkeeper, how about this, I’ll make a deposit for this comb first and come back for it three days later. Well?” I called the boss over and talked over a few more things in a low voice.
Though it was possibly an exaggeration to call this a one of a kind comb, it would certainly turned into a unique item if it belonged to princess Mu Zhen.
After making the arrangements with the storekeeper, I paid the deposit, and he agreed to keep the comb for me for three days.
“Xiran, where have you been? And why are you gone for so long?” The princess gave me an anxious look as I appeared.
“Ah?! Princess, I just need to answer call of nature. Some things just can’t be controlled, you know. Oh, by the way. I do believe the palace doors are about to close, why don’t we go back?” I casually made up a white lie as I ushered her away.
However, what I did not notice was a person standing behind us as we hastily made our way back, observing our every move.
Then, the man entered one of the private rooms of an expensive tea house. Within the room was a man dressed in black, with auspicious clouds embroidered with gold threads edging his sleeves, a scarlet girdle with a disk of white jade hung off his belt. A finely carved jade at his waist, hands playing with a teacup.
The man advanced and saluted:
“Young lord, they have returned to the palace. It is as my lord speculated, the relationship between Song Xiran and the princess is not as it seems.”
“Very good, all is within our grasp. We shall allow them time to sink even deeper, Mo Chi, continue to keep an eye on them.”
“Yes, young lord.” The man disappeared after that.
The man in inky black clothes strolled up to the window with his teacup, looking at the direction of the palace he said to himself, “Xiran, looks like I made the right decision to bring you here. I’m sorry.” The hand around the teacup clenched tight for a moment, before loosening. He sipped the tea, a trace of smile flitted passed his face, but it was soon replaced by the chill of ambition that seemed to ooze from his eyes.
When the princess and I entered Yi Hua Palace, Yuan’er hurried up to meet us.
“Princess, why are you back so late? You almost frightened this maid to death.”
“You silly maid, I’m already an adult, surely you don’t think I got lost or something? After all, I still have Xi… Young Master Song is still with me, what could possibly happen?”
“Princess, I’m just glad you’re back. This maid will prepare a bath for you immediately.”
“Hold. You come back in one hour, don’t let anyone disturb me, I have some things I wish to speak with Young Master Song.” Saying this, she dragged me with her into the palace.
“Princess, this isn’t quite proper, ah. What if people misunderstood?” I was actually really nervous about being punished for staying inside the inner court at this hour.
“Who cares about them, I just have some matters I wish to clear up with you. You just answer honestly.” She was getting really careless about safety.
“Would princess please speak, whatever question you may have, Xiran will definitely answer honestly.”
“Today, you said that you like…me, is this true?”
“Of course, hundred percent true. I already have feelings for you the moment I laid eyes on you, but seeing that we’re both females I dared not admit to anything. Without knowing how you really feel I could only get to know you slowly as a subordinate. When I know of your true feelings, the joy in my heart could no longer be contain. And that, was the very moment that I knew, I am in love with you.”
“Then, Xiran, you must promise to never lie to me, never betray me.”
I touched her shoulders, stared into her eyes, and said seriously.
“I, Song Xiran, swear to never lie to Mu Zhen. Should I break this promise, I-”
“Xiran, it’s fine to just promise me. No need to swear curses on yourself, I believe you. Also, in the future when there are no one around, you must address me as Zhen’er.”
She stopped me making my oaths, and lightly stepped forwards, circled her arms around my waist, and leaned her head against my shoulder. I gazed down at the person in my embrace, enjoying this moment in time where there was just two of us. There was a feeling of peace, joy and safety. Moonbeams shafted through the windows, turning the rooom into something dream like. If only this moment could last forever.
Zhen’er, through life or death, your hand will stay with mine. I shall abide by my promise to you. Trust me.
 Wedding Tree –