The next day, a decree came from the palace. It said that because of my marriage to the third prince, I needed to go live in the palace and learn the etiquettes until the day I marry. The emperor’s intention was very clear. As long as I lived in the palace, he wouldn’t need to be afraid that father Song would do something against him when he was outside fighting the rebels. Because if father Song did something, the first one to die would be me. What a perfect plan.
After the eunuch who delivered the decree left, I went into father Song’s room. He stared at the decree, his expression unreadable. I squatted against his bedside and whispered, “Father, if you’re still alive, the emperor won’t do something to me. So you have to take good care of your body, live a long life, and annoy the emperor to death.”
Father Song sighed loudly. He raised his withered hand and gently placed it on my head, touching me like when I was a kid.
“Our Yun Xiang has also grown up.”
I quietly accompanied father Song for a while until he couldn’t bear it anymore and wearily fell asleep. Only then did I leave the mansion. I climbed onto the red carriage and went into the palace.
I didn’t get to see the emperor. The head of eunuchs brought me to an empty room for concubines. On the other side of the wall must be the cold palace because every night, I could hear a woman’s sobbing. I found her crying beautiful, like a lullaby. Every night, I slept very soundly while listening to her crying.
The days in the palace were boring, but they went by quickly. It was like the time when I was in Yue Lao’s temple. Then, I was only worrying about how I could afford good wine and lamenting about stingy Yue Lao. Now however, my mind would always go back to that snowy night when Lu Hai Kong proposed to me. I blushed.
The day of the marriage was nearing. At the entrance of my place, more guards were patrolling. At night, I couldn’t hear the woman’s sobbing anymore. There was only the sound of the guard’s footsteps, making me more depressed than when I was in the north.
It was a snowy night again. I couldn’t sleep, so I had put some clothes on and walked to the window. I opened the window and just happened to see a man in black making the guards faint.
I blinked. The figure of that man seemed awfully familiar to me.
I had just opened my mouth when the man in black reflexively turned to the window. He stretched out his hand and covered my mouth.
His face was covered with a black cloth, so the sound was a bit muffled, but I had known him for more than ten years, how could I not recognize him?
He listened for a moment, and then pulled away the black cloth that was covering his face. A pair of black pupils reflected the snow.
“Yun Xiang, it’s me.”
I patted his hands to indicate that he could let go.
“En, I know.”
Lu Hai Kong really didn’t want his life anymore. He was a rebel leader; how could he quietly sneak into the palace?
I didn’t hesitate and stretched out my hand. I squeezed his cheek really hard. His face turned red from the pain.
He made some sisi sounds of pain, but he didn’t pull my hand away. He only said, “Yun Xiang, it hurts.”
“Lu Hai Kong.”
I looked at him for a moment before saying, “Don’t you want to live anymore?”
He also looked at me, saying, “I do, but I also want you.”
It was obviously an indecent sentence, but coming from him, I didn’t hear any indecent meaning. It felt like a child full of positive energy, swearing that he would study hard.
I was silent, so Lu Hai Kong said, “It’s not that I’ve lost my mind, nor is it that nobody had tried to discourage me….”
He paused for a moment. He looked like he was remembering some terrible things. He drooped his eyes slightly and continued, “But when I heard you were kidnapped…”
“Nobody kidnapped me,” I interrupted him. With and cold and clear voice, I said, “I left you a letter. I was willing to come back.”
Lu Hai Kong didn’t look at me and continued to say, “The soldiers at the gate told me that you left on someone’s shoulder, and that you were treated roughly…”
Seeing him with such a helpless look, I couldn’t bring myself to be heartless. I deeply inhaled the cold air and said, “Lu Hai Kong, I left you a letter. You knew that I left willingly.”
His lips trembled as if he wanted to refute me, but for me and for himself, he tried to hide it. In the end, he fell silent. He curved his lips and smiled without a trace of humor in his eyes. He said, “Yun Xiang, you don’t always need to be so honest.”
“Go back. Protect yourself well.”
He stood outside the window and looked at the ground.
“Knowing each other for sixteen years, accompanying each other in life and death for five years…Yun Xiang, I know you must have a reason.”
How could I tell him? What father Song did that year was self-protection? I abandoned him for my father, his father’s murderer?
Living together for five years in the north, we hadn’t mention a word from the past. Because in this lifetime, my blood and his hatred were the most deadly friction between us.
I also curved my lips and smiled. I made a helpless appearance and said, “Lu Hai Kong, you don’t love me as a woman.”
Lu Hai Kong hesitated. Slowly, his face turned green. He gritted his teeth and said, “Song Yun Xiang, even at this moment you don’t want to open yourself to me. You still don’t believe me!”
Outside, I heard many footsteps coming. My heart tightened. I urged Lu Hai Kong to go. Lu Hai Kong looked at me for a moment with a face full of disappointment. Finally, he turned and gathered some internal energy. He disappeared in the darkness.
Just when he left, the imperial guards arrived. They saw the guards lying on the floor. One of them came to the window and asked, “Where is the rebel?”
“I didn’t see anyone.”
“Why are all the guards on the ground?”
I raised an eyebrow and grunted. “I was sleeping like a dead man. The sound of fighting woke me up.”
The chief knitted his eyebrows before he barely bowed to me and said, “Miss Song, I beg your pardon, but I was ordered to search for the intruder.”
He finished his sentence without looking at me. He waved at the other guards and yelled, “Search!”
They kicked my door open and turned the place where I slept into a mess.
I looked at them coldly when they left without finding anyone.
I closed the door, tidied the bed, and laid on it. My mind kept going back to the words Lu Hai Kong said before he left. Open myself? Believe in him? This brat had grown up and kept saying shit that nobody understood.
I hugged the blanket tightly and gave it a few punches. Little wife’s sorrow had finally appeared!
I could almost see Emperor Li’s bearded face shaking with laughter. In my heart, I hoped that the mud horse would crush Emperor Li’s face. While pounding on the blanket, I was laughing in my heart. You had seen enough, seen enough, seen enough!
- mud horse is slang for F*** your mother in Chinese
Regardless of how tangled my heart was the next few days, eventually, the day of the marriage had come. A red carriage was waiting outside for me. A maid helped me put on heavy make-up, which I had never done before. She also put a heavy phoenix crown on me. I put on the most beautiful clothes that I had ever worn in this lifetime to go marry a man whose face I had never seen. It was said that this man’s mind had a little problem…
Third prince was the oldest among the living sons of the emperor. Even though he was sick, as someone from the royal family, a grand ceremony was still required.
My husband would come and get me at the palace door. He was riding a big horse, and I was sitting in a grand carriage, going around half of the capital, going on the stage, declaring to the world, and making an offering to the ancestors.
The me who was sitting in the carriage, covered with a boring red veil, listened to the hooves of the horses. Suddenly, I had an inexplicable feeling in my heart.
Since the beginning of this lifetime, I knew that there would one day be a day like this, however, I had always thought that the man outside would be Lu Hai Kong. I had always rebelled against it, but now I was even more dissatisfied with the situation.
Really wanted to… stretch one leg out to let the man fall from the horse.
In the end, I restrained this impulse. Until the red carriage stopped, and the curtain of the carriage was opened. A man’s hand appeared under the veil. Watching this pair of fine, white hand, I suddenly thought of the night Lu Hai Kong stood outside the window, covering my mouth with his hand. His hands were cold and felt rough. That child was born with a life as precious as the prince, but he had suffered so much pain.
I restrained the feelings in my heart and held his hand. The red veil blocked my sight. I could only see my feet on the ground. The man beside me held me and kept asking, “What’s wife’s name, ah? Oh, wife’s surname is Song, Prime Minister Song’s daughter. What’s wife’s age, ah? Oh, wife’s age is a little old, already twenty. Wife does not want to get married? Oh, I can’t ask this question, hehe.”
I felt his mind really was not so good.
“Ladder,” the third prince yelled after a few steps. “How do I climb a ladder? Oh, the ladder needs to be climbed step by step. Above is the stage, need to be serious.”
My mouth twitched. I let him slowly guide me. After the last step on the ladder, he walked three steps and asked, “What do I need to do? Oh, bow to heaven, bow to ancestors, bow to parents.”
I definitely didn’t want to bother with him, so I just let him lead me like a corpse.
“Aiya, how come the prime minister is not here? Oh, Prime Minister Song died last night at home.”
A cold feeling entered my heart. I didn’t care and ripped the veil of my head. I also didn’t care about the place. I grabbed the third prince;s clothes and sternly asked, “What did you say?!”
The third prince’s eyes swept across my face. I couldn’t ignore the gloating in his eyes. How could a fool live till now in the royal struggle? But right now those things had nothing to do with me. I was so angry that my eyes became red. I glared at the third prince and said, word by word, “What. Did. You. Say?”
“What did I say? Oh, prime minister Song Qin Wen has died; The prime minister’s Miss doesn’t have any backing anymore.”
My body turned soft. I let go of him. Not long ago, I had touched father Song’s hands, and he had affectionately caressed my head. Life and death really was too easy in the human realm. While in trance, I remembered the words that the drunken Yue Lao used to say: Mortals are helpless; immortals have no feelings.
All the noise, chaos and people in front disappeared. I stood there and looked up at the sky. I yelled: “Damn you(emperor Li)!”
Suddenly, someone grabbed my hand really hard. He bent my hands behind my back, and I involuntarily bent down in pain. A sound at my ear made me come back to reality. A guard shouted in my ear, “Fearless! You dare to beat the third prince!”
I lifted my head and glared at the guards. Several guards, protecting the third prince, took a few steps back. The third prince touched his neck with an arrogant face. I hated him so much, but I was so helpless. Today, I, a cloud fairy, was being bullied by a few mortals. This feeling really was not good.
In the next instant, I heard a noise. I hadn’t yet understood the situation when the two guards holding my hands tumbled to the ground with a plop sound.
I was still surprised when an arm tightly held my waist.
The man holding me withdrew his sword. Guards were falling to the ground. I was shocked. When he stopped for a moment, I fiercely pushed him. I angrily shouted, “You fucking stupid idiot! Is this a place you should come to?!”
Lu Hai Kong took a step back and steadied his body. He looked at me with one red eye.
“I’m a fucking stupid idiot!”
In the north, Lu Hai Kong learned a lot of curse words. Occasionally I would hear his rough voice cursing while I was passing the training fields. But to me, he had always a gentleman. He had never even raised his voice against me.
Today, he lost his cool.
I didn’t know from where the people in black appeared from. They fought with the guards as a group. On the stage, there weren’t many guards left. Lu Hai Kong had killed a few, and the remaining guards were beside the third prince. They didn’t come forward easily and just kept guarding the third prince. Lu Hai Kong and I began to yell at each other on this stage.
“I don’t want you to save me! Go away!”
“I’ve decided to save you,” Lu Hai Kong yelled. “Do not say those shitty excuses again! Love between man and woman? Love between husband and wife? So what if I don’t understand that shit? I only know that if you were willing to marry him today, I would have immediately left. If you could live happily and well, I would not say a word. But will you? Song Yun Xiang, can you swear that you’ll live happily?! If you can…”
His voice stopped. He touched my cheeks with his fingertips. His rough fingers, that didn’t belong to his age, were proof of his hard life.
Lu Hai Kong said hoarsely, “If you can, why the fucking hell are you crying?”
“How… the fucking hell would I know why I’m crying.”
I thought for a long time, looking through countless of words and only coming up with excuses, bratty words, words of denial.
But the only words that came to my lips was, “Father passed away…”
Lu Hai Kong was a bit startled. He put his hands on my head. A bit unaccustomed, he caressed my head and said comfortingly, “Don’t cry.”
His face was a shade paler, and he lowered his voice. “Yun Xiang, we’ll talk when we go back.”
I was still in shock, but Lu Hai Kong grabbed my waist without any explanation and moved rapidly to the ground below the stage. He put two fingers in his mouth and whistled. All the people in black began to withdraw from the fight.
The strangest thing was that there were more and more guards. It felt really strange. Now that father Song was gone, I didn’t know how pleased the emperor was. The third prince and I were now useless. He could’ve just ordered me to mourn for three years, but the emperor didn’t let a word get away about my father’s death. He had still carried on with this marriage. Since he was so insistent on carrying it, he must’ve had a good reason.
Now it seemed that the emperor had already guessed that Lu Hai Kong would come. And Lu Hai Kong must’ve known that if he appeared, it would be really dangerous….
I held onto Lu Hai Kong’s neck, looking at his side profile. Suddenly, I thought, with a bit of unwillingness, Why do I only have one lifetime with him?
Suddenly, something flashed brightly before my eyes. I turned my head to look. The third prince pushed his guards away and stood out.
I said to Lu Hai Kong, “I can’t breath holding on like this. Lu Hai Kong, piggyback me.”
Lu Hai Kong’s arm used a little strength. In a blink of eye, I was on his back. I wondered. “What sort of kungfu is this?”
I coughed and cleared my throat. “The kungfu is very convenient for moving things.”
Lu Hai Kong said softly, “Yun Xiang, let’s talk when we’re out of the capital.”
I nodded. “Alright.”
I rested my head on his shoulder. Suddenly, I remembered that there was one time when Lu Hai Kong was a kid. He was tired of playing at the prime minister’s mansion, and he wanted me to piggyback him home. At that time, I had just wanted to leave him there, but he had cried so sadly that I had reluctantly piggybacked him home. It had been sunset at that time. The general’s mansion and the prime minister’s mansion were just a few steps from each other, but he had fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Now, the sun was shining brightly, but I was distracted to see what the sunlight was like. I closed my eyes and gently said, “So, being carried by someone is so comfortable. No wonder you can fall asleep.”
My body felt a bit sore. I held onto his neck. I kept holding and let Lu Hai Kong do the running. His breathing became heavier. He yelled, “Yun Xiang, hold on tighter!”
“Mm,” I answered. I used all my strength and clung onto his neck. We were not out of the capital yet. It still was not safe, so I couldn’t let go.
Although it was somewhat vague, I could still Emperor Li scratching his ear before the bookshelf anxiously. “It’s not the same, ah! It’s not the same as what I wrote! Why did the wrong person die?”
I grinned. Humph, big-bearded Li, you thought I was easy to bully? You wanted Lu Hai Kong to die before me? If I had also drank the soup of oblivion, then my life after his death would have been really unhappy. I would’ve been begging for death. But now, he wouldn’t die. He still had a long life to live, and many wonderful things to experience. Not as one of Chu Kong’s reincarnation, but as Lu Hai Kong, a real living person. He would have a wonderful life.
I didn’t know how much time had passed. I felt someone patting my face.
“Yun Xiang? Yun Xiang….”
His voice was two-thirds sensual, a third hoarse.
I opened my eyes and saw that it was snowing. Lu Hai Kong’s face was above me, his snow-covered hair making him look like an old man.
“Aiya, it’s snowing.”
I had a sore throat, but surprisingly, my spirit felt really full. I was feeling very light, lighter than when I was a cloud spirit.
Lu Hai Kong hugged me and whispered, “Don’t be afraid, we’ll go look for a physician. They can heal you.”
Hearing him say this, I remembered that when we were leaving the stage, the third prince shot an arrow. It went right into my back. I didn’t need to guess to know that it had poison on it. Imperial poison, how could just anyone cure it?
I was now in high spirits. It must be…because I’m going back.
“Lu Hai Kong, my father did you wrong. Now, I’m paying back for him.”
“Song Yun Xiang, you’ve never owed me anything.”
He gritted his teeth and said, “With what will you be paying back?”
“Ah, this is good,” I smiled. “We’ve settled it for now. In the future, we won’t owe each other anything.”
I narrowed my eyes and saw the soul collectors coming from afar.
“Lu Hai Kong, in your next life, don’t run into me anymore…”
I hadn’t finished speaking, when he bent closer to me. I was appalled. I could feel his warm lips on my cold lips. Now that he was so close, though, I couldn’t see his face. I only felt salty water drop into my mouth, letting my lips and teeth feel bitter.
For the time being, I didn’t care if his behavior was indecent. I only felt that my heart was also aching. He spoke against my lips. “In the next lifetime, next next lifetime, I’ll run into you.”
I smiled bitterly. “Don’t say that. You’ll regret it…”
After this lifetime was over, I would reincarnate earlier. Lu Hai Kong surely wouldn’t find me after his death. Then he would turn back into Chu Kong. After regaining his memories, he probably wouldn’t want to come find me anymore……
From now on, we wouldn’t be meeting again. Our wrong beginning would end.
“You need to finish this lifetime well. Strive to live on.”
I closed my eyes and smiled. “I’ll go first.”
My soul left my body. I was immediately caught by the soul collectors. They kept bickering while leading me on the road to the Nether World.
Suddenly, my heart had a strange feeling, like a heartache. I looked back and saw Lu Hai Kong holding the cold body closely. He was crying like a child.
This concludes the first lifetime. Even though this isn’t my favorite lifetime, after translating for a month and half, it felt sad to part with it.