by Qing Lu
Translated by Grenn
Chapter 20 – Princess Chao Yun
Dusk, the moment where the sky was at it most beautiful. The fragments of golden lights pierced through the clouds. Except for the fragrant garden and the rugged mountains of stones, the golden lights dyed the horizon of azure into different shades of sunset colors. In a very good mood, Lou Xiyan arrived at the courtyard in front of the reception pavilion with the corner of his lips still pulled into a smile. He halted and said in a low voice, “Mo Bai, guard her carefully.” Considering her character, she certainly wouldn’t stay obediently in the Chancellor’s mansion. There were too many mysteries surrounding her. Since he had yet to fully understand any of them, he absolutely wouldn’t let her go out of his control.
“Yes.” Mo Bai’s voice didn’t contain any hesitation. His figure swiftly disappeared between the mountains of stones. Anyone who saw a tall human suddenly disappeared right in front of their eyes would feel frightful, but Lou Xiyan was accustomed to it. He lightly fixed the front of his clothes. The corner of his mouth still lightly raised, but there was no longer a hint of joy in his eyes. He picked up his pace and entered the courtyard of the reception pavilion from the side.
Just when Lou Xiyan went inside the courtyard, Yan Ruxuan who was sitting above the master’s seat caught sight of him. He was wearing a golden purple official hat decorated with white jade and dressed in a dark red with gold chang pao. The sunset illuminated his body from behind. It made it seemed like he was treading on the golden lights as he entered. The scene further increased his majestic handsome appearance. It especially highlighted that touch of faint smile on his lips that didn’t seem like a smile, but was lighthearted like a feather, warm and smooth like moving water. Even if she saw it every day, it still made her heart madly beat every time.
Lou Xiyan still hadn’t entered the room, but Yan Ruxuan had slowly stood up while she waited for him to come in. Her golden long skirt lightly shifted, following her movements. Her Fushun’s hairstyle was slightly raised. She calmly stood there, dignified and quiet. It was enough to bewitch anyone. What more, she had a face that could even eclipse the bright moon.
When Yan Ruxuan stood up, Xue Xianxin hurriedly did the same thing and followed her line of sight. She saw Lou Xiyan slowly walking in with an evident smile. She waited until Lou Xiyan entered the reception pavilion. Immediately, with impatience, she pretended to complain. “Xiyan, you had return. Princess Chao Yun had been waiting for you for quite a while.”
Lou Xiyan merely lightly nodded his head to Xue Xianxin and, towards Yan Ruxuan, he lightly greeted her with cusp hands as he said, “Greetings to Princess.”
Yan Ruxuan stepped forward and hurriedly said, “Big Brother Yan, there is no need to be so courteous.”
Xue Xianxin rejoiced in her heart. Princess Chao Yun only had Lou Xiyan in her heart. If they became a married couple, then the Lou family would possess the authority to hide the sky with one hand and overturn the Imperial court and the commoners with it! Her heart beat wildly as she counted the chickens before they hatched. Xue Xianxin took care to mention before leaving, “You two chat first. I’m going to take a look at the preparations for tonight meal.”
Xue Xianxin left perfectly satisfied. Yan Ruxuan slightly raised her eyes and saw Lou Xiyan. Her face couldn’t stop from heating up until it became red. She hurriedly pointed at the medicinal ingredients on the side and softly said, “Spring has come. Xuan’er is worry Big Brother Yan’s illness is going to relapse, so I brought you some medicine. The medicines are concocted according to a famous doctor that Imperial Mother had found. You must be careful and take care of your health. Don’t overwork yourself.” Every time she heard that Big Brother Yan’s illness is recurring, her heart would be endlessly worry.
Lou Xiyan looked at the packages of medicine on the table and smiled brightly. “Many thanks to Empress Dowager and to Princess’ grace. This subject will pay attention to it.”
Why must he called her ‘Princess’ and addressed himself as ‘this subject’? She had chase after him for so many years, didn’t he feel anything after all this time?! She heard her Imperial Brother had bestow upon him an exceptional great beauty. Won’t he unable to look for her later? Her heart was slightly painful while her hands hidden under her long sleeves were tightly clenched into a fist. Yan Ruxuan’s watery eyes were filled with desires as she watched Lou Xiyan. She softly asked, “On the 15th of next month, the envoy of the country of Bei Qi will come to Qiong Yue to present their customary deference. Imperial Brother and Imperial Mother must have forgotten that day is also Xuan’er’ 17th birthday. When you enter the palace at that time, can you come and see me?”
Facing the longing in her gaze, Lou Xiyan softly comforted her. “Princess, there is no need for you to be worry over this. It’s unlikely that the Emperor and the Empress Dowager will forget about your birthday.”
“Then can you come to Qing Xuan palace hall to see me?” She didn’t care if other people remember her birthday or not. She only care if he remember it!
Lou Xiyan hesitated for a moment. Nevertheless, he finally gave his answer in a soft voice, “The envoy is on visit that day. I’m afraid that I will be unable to desist from the official business. This subject will order some servants to send the presents to Qing Xuan palace hall.”
‘Presents…’ She was no longer the little girl from long ago who was all happy and excited from receiving a few presents. Once again, he refused her request. It was already the 57 times with this time.
“It’s getting late. Xuan’er is going back first.” Yan Ruxuan was still dazzled as she walked out of the reception hall. Lou Xiyan’s mind was disturbed and sighed. “This subject will see Princess off.” Xuan’er is a good and honest woman. She should receive much better treatment, however whether or not he will give it…
“There’s no need.” Faintly sighing, she prevented Lou Xiyan from following behind her. He looked at the beautiful figure meandering as she went away.
Outside the room, the night was pitch-black like ink. Inside the room, a faint yellow light from a candle could be seen through the layer upon layer of curtains. It was illuminating the bed behind the curtains. It was only strong enough for one to be able to distinguish objects. Zhuo Qing lightly opened her eyes. What entered her sight was a full cotton curtain. She was absent-minded for a split of second, but very quickly, she remembered where she was.
A Chancellor’s residence is really a Chancellor’s residence. Ever since she came to this world, it was the first time she was able to sleep so well on such a big and warm bed. She sketched herself and then lifted the bed curtains. Zhuo Qing walked barefoot toward the other side of the screen. On the floor, a thick and soft carpet, which felt very comfortable, was spread out. On the other side of the screen, there was a round mahogany table. In addition, there was also a soft couch further in. Beside the screen, there was a bronze mirror as tall as a person. Who would have thought that copper can also be polish until it became this flat and smooth. Although it couldn’t be compared to a glass mirror, but it was amply enough for everyday uses.
As she stood in front of the mirror, at last, Zhuo Qing had the opportunity to properly look at the body she had been possessing for a few days.
She had faintly curved and slender eyebrows and a tall and straight nose’s bridge with a goose’s egg face. What Zhuo Qing liked the most were that pair of eyes which weren’t very big, but they were sparkling, translucent, pure and limpid like two clear springs. As for her slightly raised lips, they were plump and glossy.
In modern times, there existed so many kinds of celebrities and stars that couldn’t be count on the fingers of a hand. As for Zhuo Qing, she had seen countless beauties, but this body’s appearance could be considered as a top-rated rare beauty. If she was properly dressed up, without a doubt, she could be mistaken as a celestial being. Unfortunately, the two knife’s scars destroyed some of the beauty. Although Zhuo Qing didn’t feel very ugly, it was still her current body and she couldn’t help but think it was a pity. Her face was unusually young; She should be around 16 years old at most. She laughed at herself. It seemed as if she was cheating. For no cause nor reason, she was now ten years younger.
Her long black hair, reaching to her calf, slightly moved. Zhuo Qing bitterly laughed, such long hair truly baffled her. She lightly pulled on her collar and lowered her head to take a look. She couldn’t stop herself from whistling. ‘Really abnormal! What did that child eat to grow this part this much? It’s at least 34D. To be able to develop this much is pretty good…’
Zhuo Qing was still exclaiming her admiration at herself when several dazzling lights somehow attracted her attention to the half opened window in the other room. She walk through the room and opened the window to take a look. What she saw was a courtyard and a house with a lake separating her from her neighbor. She didn’t know what was the matter on the other side since there were a dozen of persons gathering outside and the inside of the house was brightly lit.
When she went to sleep, she had send out all the maids. At present, she was terribly hungry. As she thought about it, she decided to go out to find something to eat and, while passing, she would see what was going on at her neighbor’s house. Zhuo Qing opened her doors and walked towards the three-storeyed house opposite to hers.
It didn’t seem too far away, but the bridge on top of the lake was long with lots of twists and turns which made Zhuo Qing miserable. It was with great difficulty that she arrived in front of the house. There, she saw everyone showing an anxious look as they fixed their attention towards the inside of the house. Zhuo Qing recognized the person standing in front of the crowd. It was Lu Xiwu who she met this afternoon.
“Excuse me, I would like to ask what is happening?” A cold and clear female voice that sounded leisure echoed out. It made everyone’s nerves tensed and made them jumped in fright.
Lou Xiwu turned her head and clearly saw Zhuo Qing. She impatiently said, “Go somewhere else ugly woman! Right now, I have no time to pay attention to you.”
Zhuo Qing lightly raised her eyebrows. She indifferently replied, “Alright, I will take a look myself.” As she finished speaking, she strutted towards the house.
‘She, she, she is outrageous!’
As she recovered her mind, Lou Xiwu hurriedly blocked Zhuo Qing’s path and scolded her, “You can’t go in. Elder Brother’s old illness recurs. The imperial physician is currently treating his illness. You can’t go in and disturb him!”
Zhuo Qing had already guess that Lou Xiwu could block her path, but hearing her speak about Lou Xiyan’s illness, she was slightly startled. She asked, “What kind of illness?” This afternoon when he grabbed her, his strength wasn’t small. His complexion and breathing were constant. He didn’t appear like he fell ill at that time. ‘What is he playing again?’
That crisp sound must be the sound of something breaking. Immediately, a low roar came out from inside the room. “Get out!” The voice was followed by an intense gasp for breath which contained repressed emotions, and yet, was peculiarly grim.
Zhuo Qing’s mind was alarmed. ‘This is… Lou Xiyan’s voice!’
Lou Xiwu’s complexion paled in an instant. Her nervous hand also started trembling. From her appearance, it didn’t look like she was pretending. ‘Don’t tell me Lou Xiyan really had an illness? What kind of illness can make a cultured and refined…a formerly cultured and refined man becomes irritable in such a way?’
As Zhuo Qing was puzzled, suddenly, the door of the house opened from inside.
 I guess it’s a peculiar hairstyle, but I don’t have enough Chinese culture knowledge to be able to find a picture of it. The history of female hairstyles throughout China’s history is quite vast and interesting. You can check out a summary of it here and imagine a hairstyle.
 Lou Xiyan is not her real brother. It’s a form of honorific. Since she loves him, she still used a more familiar and intimate way to call him, but Lou Xiyan used a more polite and hierarchical honorific to put some distance and reminds her of their status.
 In the original, 秦晋之好 (qín jìn zhī hǎo) was used which referred to the alliance between the Qin and Jin which is maintained through numerous marriages.