The sky is cloudless and sunny today ~
Madness is everywhere ~
While Dong Xi hummed this song, she watched over the steamer basket on the stove.
White smoke lingered in the room.
After miss returned from Shang Qing temple, she was sickly and without spirit for several days. She didn’t even touch the braised pork that she had previously liked so much.
Old master saw miss’s increasingly pale face. His heart ached. He ordered that cooks must make delicious food that would make miss lively again.
As a result, the cooks had put in all of their effort and used various valuable items. They used caterpillar fungus, bird’s nest, shark’s fine, bear paw, and young deer antler… in the end, they even made the current generation’s leading scholar’s herbal soup meant to boost a male’s sex drive. Shi Quan Da Bu soup.
(T/N: Literal meaning is ten large comprehensive supplements. This is an actual soup, but it’s meant for people suffering from anemic or internal bleeding. )
After miss had eaten this continuously for several days, she felt so painful that she wanted to die. Finally, she pulled Dong Xi aside. While crying, she explained that her lethargy was because of her period. She wanted to eat sweet stuff.
“That’s so simple. Why didn’t miss ask the cooks to make it?” Dong Xi asked in surprise.
“Unfortunately, they won’t be able to make the type of food that I want to eat.” Miss faintly smiled, but her tone was depressed, “This place doesn’t have those types of ingredients.”
“Oh. Miss should tell master what she wants to eat and he’ll go to the palace to request it. After all, you’ll be relatives by marriage in the future.” Dong Xi curled up her lips in a smile. Her face showed that she didn’t take QingQiao’s words seriously.
“The palace won’t have it. Even if you search the world, I’m afraid that you won’t be able to find the food that I want to eat.” Miss shook her head and bitterly smiled.
“What could be so rare?” Dong Xi was full of curiosity about this food that even the emperor couldn’t provide.
“… It has a brown color. Its taste is very rich and dense. Its somewhat bitter, but also somewhat sweet. It melts in your mouth. Its good points are unending…” Gradually, a soft light appeared in miss’s eyes. Her voice was full of reminiscing and yearning. “That silky feeling… you won’t be able to understand.”
(T/N: Can you guess what food QingQiao wants to eat?)
Dong Xi scoffed. What is “you won’t be able to understand”?
Miss was looking down on her too much. She was a first class servant in the Gu residence with high emotional intelligence and an enlightened mind. Although she couldn’t make the item called “chocolate”, could she be bad at attending to a girl during her menstruation period? Wasn’t it just that she felt pain because she lost some blood?
Dong Xi snorted. Miss would certainty be fine eating just molasses and red date for the pain. Miss was good about everything, but she liked to play a role. Look at this exclusive molasses and red date cake that was created in Dong Xi’s hometown. Wouldn’t it allow miss to be lively once again?
Dong Xi deeply breathed in the alluring white smoke from the opened green bamboo steamer basket. The smell was incomparably intoxicating.
En, it smelled really good.
After Dong Xi had taken the cake out of the steamer, she placed it inside an ebony box. Then, she wrapped a cotton cloth around it to keep it warm. She happily walked towards the reception pavilion.
Miss had previously said, “A good steel must be used for a knife’ blade.” Although Dong Xi didn’t even know what “steel” was, this didn’t hinder her from advancing further in taking stock of how to curry favor with the miss.
In her future, she would definitely be a first-class servant girl in Prince Duan’s residence… A popular person in front of Prince Duan and his wife…
She smiled as she continued to think and eat. When she reached the reception pavilion’s entrance, her smile immediately stiffened.
A man turned around to look at her and asked, “Dong Xi girl, where are you going?” Under the sunlight and shade, his delicate silhouette seemed like an ink painting. His hair was as black as ink and his skin was white as snow. Clearly, this was vividly contrasting. But, because of that gorgeous face, he looked like a serene and strange type of harmony.
“This servant greets the prince.” Dong Xi quickly saluted and presented the black box, “My family’s miss hasn’t been feeling well the past few days. This servant made this snack for miss and was about to bring it to the reception pavilion.”
“So, miss is at the reception pavilion?” Duan Yu lightly smiled.
Dong Xi saw dazzling light and overflowing bright colors.
“I was wondering why I couldn’t find her in her room. So, she was hiding there to bask in the sunlight. Bring me there to see her.”
Dong Xi was forced by power (Author’s note: false) and mesmerized by beauty (Author’s note: truth). At the moment, she was perfectly happy to bring Duan Yu to the reception pavilion. She would regret this decision for the rest of her life.
Noon. At the entrance to the reception pavilion.
If the blue sky had ears, at this moment, it would definitely hear Dong Xi’s prayers.
I shouldn’t have brought him here. I should haven’t brought him here… Dong Xi stood at the entrance. Her face was deathly pale.
Duan Yu silently looked at the young girl in the center of the room. His face didn’t show any expression.
Every month, women have those types of days where they don’t eat well or sleep well and their temperament is irritable. As a result, women considered themselves princesses or empresses during those few days. No one would dare to offend them.
Gu QingQiao would be an excellent example. Today, she complained that her body wasn’t feeling well and that her mood was bad.
And so, Old Master Gu said to the entire residence’s servants, “Do what ever miss wants. If miss isn’t happy, I’ll throw all of you out!” It was rare for Old Master Gu speak in such a stern voice.
And so, QingQiao’s received an amnesty. She picked the usual people from Gu residence to sing and dance for her. In reality, she did this as a future gift to Gu ShangShu. She had decided that before she left Gu residence, she wanted to present a show for him. For this reason, she secretly trained the servants for such a long time. Today could be considered an early test.
The servant girls would be the first to appear on the stage. Young, beautiful women dressed in colorful clothing with scarlet ribbons tied around their waists appeared. Their footsteps gleamed as they danced on the stage. As they swung their hips, with smiles across their faces, they sang out,
“The sky above a liberated area is bright and clear,
The liberated people like it very much,
Gu ShangShu’s grace and kindness is unending,
Yeah yeah, hey hey,
Yeah hey hey hey, Yeah hey hey hey,
Yeah yeah, hey hey,
Yingying yanyan, say ‘happy’.”
(T/N: The first two lines of this song were from an actual folk song by an anonymous writer.)
Representatives of the kitchen workers followed them. The fleshy A’Da produced a deep sound from his chest and then loudly cried out, “Recklessly run.”
Immediately, two small footboys came out from behind his left and right arm and sang, “Run run run run run run ~~~~”
A’Da seemed as if he were drunk and raised his voice to continue howling, “Recklessly flow.”
The two small footboys nodded left and right. At lightning speed, they shook palm leaf fans, “Flow flow flow flow flow flow flow ~~~”
With a shake, A’Da’s beautiful hair flew and he continued to sing with deep emotions, “
The large waves from faraway rivers will never end,
They flowed through the world and mixed with the torrential tide…”
(T/N: At first, I was thinking what could possible go on in QingQiao’s head to create such wierd song lyrics. But this is actually a messed up version of a Cantonese song “On the beach”.)
Of course, A’Da’s attempt at Cantonese wasn’t exact. And as he sang and sang, the lyrics were more and more off from the original lyrics.
QingQiao had been lying on her stomach on the bamboo couch. She was so laughing so hard that her body was rocking back and forth. Her laughter was like the sound of silver bells.
“Haha ha. A’Da you’re so eager.” She used her hands to indicate for them to stop singing. She was out of breath from laughing. “This old aunt finally wasn’t fond of you in vain…”
Perhaps, it was due to laziness. Her hair wasn’t arranged in an elaborate hairstyle. She only had a ribbon loosely tying up her hair. She was wearing a somewhat old cotton gown decorated with fragmented flowers. Her words and manner were coarse and her laughter was wanton. She looked like a village woman without the slightest trace of a daughter from a noble family.
Dong Xi felt like her brain was buzzing. She felt dizzy. She almost couldn’t stop herself from going over there.
Ah, Buddha and Guanyin (goddess of mercy). Why did you let Prince Duan Yu see this scene? Although miss frequently behaved like this in secret, her acting as a delicate girl was watertight in front of outsiders. Because I didn’t inform anyone before bringing Prince Duan Yu this time, I unexpectedly broke miss’s fake persona! Alas, why was it me? It was against expectations for it to be me! All of my meticulous services to curry favor with miss. My radiant and lustrous future prospect as a first class servant girl in the prince’s residence…
Dong Xi mourned her future and secretly looked at Duan Yu’s face. The prince’s eyes were abstruse. His lips were tightly pressed together as if he was thinking of something, but also as if he wasn’t thinking of anything. Dong Xi’s mind whirled many times. She fantasied about her unlimited probabilities after she was kicked out. Hidden under his calmness, there could be a rapid and serious undercurrent.
Instead, the prince turned his head to look at her and he said with a fake smile, “She’s not feeling well?” After he said those words, he took big strides towards the center of the hall.
The people on the stage had been changed. Young servant boys had started to softly sing “The red sunset”.
“The red sunset is the most beautiful,
It’s warm and unhurried,
The sunset is a late blooming flower,
The sunset is a wine that’s been stored for many years…”
QingQiao let out an unrestrained smile. Her face was like a cloud made of gentleness and softness.
Old father Gu, although I wasn’t your biological daughter, you were the person that treated me the best in this world. At that time, if you didn’t give me shelter under your wing, would I have lived such a free and peaceful life for the last five years? Her heart felt somewhat regretful. She turned her head to look at a distant place.
Dong Xi’s entire body stiffened in surprise as she stared at QingQiao. Why did her face look like she eaten feces? Was she bleeding from her period? Dong Xi had a sense of uncertainty and looked away. Her gaze landed on a familiar figure that was standing underneath a shelf of flowers.
He was staring at her. (Start of QingQiao’s thoughts.)
He seemed to be smiling, but that smile had traces of coldness. He seemed to be frowning, but his eyes were shining. He was definitely attractive. He was as beautiful as a celestial being. He looked as if he was at the point of giving up all hope.
Sound of flapping wings. It was if her heart was full of butterflies flapping their small wings.
For a moment, it seemed as if they were the only two people in the world. The only two people left…
Bah! Author, I already said it would be enough just to have him. Why am I still here?
Dong Xi looked at miss’s flabbergasted and foolish expression. She immediately thought, thunder god and lightning goddess, please be charitable and strike me dead with a lightening bolt.
Duan Yu seemed in the midst of pondering something. His hands were clasped together and he continued to silently stand there.
He was waiting. He was waiting for his anticipated reaction to happen.
However, just as he was suffering from a momentary lapse from concentration, he heard a plopping sound and an unknown object landed on his face. The unknown object stayed on the prince’s face 1.5 seconds, and then it slowly slid down. His face that was so beautiful that this event was extremely tragic, would anger gods and mortals, and the heavens were upset.
The entire world was quiet. It was absolutely quiet because everyone had been scared dumb.
Duan Yu resisted with great difficulty from becoming angry. His livid face looked at the unknown object on the ground.
It was an embroidered shoe.
“Why did you come here? Leave! Leave this place…” QingQiao stood up from her bamboo couch. Rage that was directed towards Duan Yu was written across her face. It was a look of intense and deep-seated hatred and an unwillingness to exist under the same sky with this enemy.
Everyone gasped. What? Nowadays, was the person who had been hit being more polite than the person who had hit him?
“… This prince had come here especially to see you.” Duan Yu had been angered to the point that his face was entirely red and the veins in his forehead were protruding. “… Could this be the way you greet this prince?”
“Humph! Who wants your faked good intentions?!” QingQiao picked up her other shoe in preparation of throwing it at him. Her voice was indignant and resentful, “Didn’t you want me to die? Didn’t you shoot an arrow at me when we were on that mountain? Didn’t you aim the arrow at my forehead?”
Everyone was surprised. Then, they looked at the prince with a complicated expression. Oh. They hadn’t expected another hidden secret.
“You misunderstood…” Duan Yu froze for a moment. He hadn’t expected that this young girl would still be thinking about what happened near Shang Qing Temple. “At that time, I wasn’t intentionally…”
“Not intentional? What do you count as not intentional?” The more QingQiao talked, the angrier she became. Tears dropped from her eyes like flower petals.
The people felt sorry for her as they watched.
“You said you would protect me. You said that when I’m with you, I don’t have to worry… But, when I was capture by that strange man, where were you? When I was forced by him to watch that carnage, where were you? I waited for you to come save me. When you finally came, I saw that your bow and arrow was positioned to shoot me… After I woke up in Gu residence, when I couldn’t sleep peacefully sleep at night because of nightmares, where were you?”
By this point, she was crying so much that she couldn’t speak. She was curled up like an injured baby deer. She seemed so sad that it looked like she wanted to die.
As if she was licking her wounds, she continued, “… I waited so long for you. Why didn’t you come visit me? Why didn’t you come to explain? These past days, I was so scared. I was scared to eat meat and couldn’t stand the sight of blood. Every night, I would wake up crying… Why didn’t you come earlier? What does it mean if you come now? What does it mean?!”
Everyone started to have teary eyes after listening to these fragile sounding questions. In their hearts, they thought no wonder miss was acting weird after she came back. So, it was because she suffered such a huge shock when she was outside. They felt incomparably sympathetic towards her.
Duan Yu’s expression gradually relaxed. Warmth and softness appeared on his face.
“It… It was my fault.” His voice was somewhat hoarse. His face seemed as if it was covered in mist and there was starlight at the center of his eyes as he said, “Don’t cry anymore. Okay?” With big steps, he walked to the front of QingQiao. He held the young girl safely into his arms as if she was the world’s most fragile treasure.
“… I shot the arrow at you because someone had trapped you in an illusion. I couldn’t see you where you were, so I could only use feeling to aim the arrow. After all, this was the only way to break that cult’s illusion skill…”
“You’re lying!” QingQiao resentfully wiped her tears and runny nose on his white clothing. “The forest had so many trees. How could you have known that I was hidden under that tree?”
“… I didn’t know. I could only try.” Duan Yu stroked her hair. His voice was incomparably affectionate and tender as he said, “I saw that Zuo Qing was underneath that tree and I thought that you wouldn’t have walked too far from him…”
QingQiao hummed for a moment before burying her head in Duan Yu’s chest. She didn’t continue to speak.
“It’s okay now. Don’t continue to be difficult.” Duan Yu said in the same tone one would use to coax a child. His eyes were full of gentle feelings. “That day, after I obtained that cult’s tracks, I immediately went to the palace to find my emperor brother to discuss… I didn’t expect that my actions would seem like I was snubbing you and that you would have such odd ideas. Ah, it was entirely my fault. Now that I admitted I was wrong. Don’t be angry with me anymore. Okay?”
The girl in his arms shifted around. It seemed as if she had relaxed, but in the next moment, she became rigid. Her voice was a like a fly when she said, “… I can’t even stomach eating braised pork anymore…”
Duan Yu’s lips curled up. This specious smile that floated on his face made it difficult for others to tell his thoughts.
“… What do you want as an apology?”
QingQiao pondered this for a long time. She quietly raised her small face that was as tender and lovely as a flower.
“Will you be willing to give me whatever I want?”
“… As long as it’s something within my residence, I will give it to you.” Duan Yu softly said.
QingQiao gazed at him for a while. She did her best to assess the credibility of his words, but the only thing she saw was messy emotions.
Duan Yu looked at her in return with a deep gaze. His face was like white jade and glazed porcelain. It emitted a gemstone glow. He was so perfect that he didn’t seem like a real human.
“… I want to go back to my room…” She noticed the curious expression on the servants and lowered her blushing face, “There are so many people here…”
Duan Yu laughed and picked her up. He carried her outside while taking large steps.
A match made in heaven! A match made in heaven!
The servants had watched a wonderful idol drama for free. They couldn’t get enough of that rollercoaster of emotional exhibition. Everyone sighed as Duan Yu and QingQiao left.
Only Dong Xi was dazedly standing in her original place.
A moment ago… Was there her misconception? When the prince had picked miss up, why did miss’s smile have a trace of craftiness? And that bright and shiny look in miss’s eyes… She couldn’t be wrong. It was that familiar “success!” happy expression.
Ah, this was hard to understand.
Today’s weather was sunny and cloudless. It was crazy everywhere ~
She finally succeeded.
QingQiao easily and comfortably nested in Duan Yu’s chest. She couldn’t resist the wave of ecstasy in her heart. If the emperor’s spirit was really around Duan Yu’s side, with the words that he had just said, wouldn’t she be able to obtain it without effort?
She inhaled, buried her face in Duan Yu’s clothing, and secretly laughed.
Dong Xi, don’t say this miss hasn’t taught you anything.
In this world, as long as you dare to take action, you will regain the initiative. Adversity will change into favorable circumstances.
This is the reason why the saying goes, attack others before they attack you.
(T/N: When Duan Yu asked QingQiao what she wanted, is that the moment when he realized that she was faking?
I really like this story, but there are moments when I think QingQiao is extremely stupid. Does she never consider that other people will also know about the valuable items she wants to collect? And that if she tries to obtain those items, she’s putting herself and her adopted father in danger. At the very least, if the monk knows, then someone must have told him and that person could have told other people.)