This night, Miaomiao was carried back to her room by Mu Sheng.
It wasn’t an ordinary hug around the waist—— as she was drunk and stubbornly clung to Mu Sheng’s neck, he picked her up in an uprooted radish position. Ling Miaomiao sat on his arm, arms crossed behind his neck and resting on his shoulders, allowing him to carry her back, only to reveal a pair of aggrieved eyes.
Mu Sheng’s mind had been drifting, his steps unsteady on their way back. Ling Miaomiao was humming in his ears, repeatedly chanting: “Ziqi, you should like me, like me……”
“……like.” With difficulty, he freed a hand, patted her back soothingly, and stepped into the room.
“Don’t like Sister Mu anymore, like me, like me.” Her apricot eyes were muddled, her forehead hair damp with sweat. She looked especially pitiful, grabbing his sleeve and refusing to let go, repeating, “Don’t like Sister Mu anymore……”
“……” Only then did he understand that she had not been asking; she was pleading with him.
Could it be that her mind…… was still stuck on the last time she drank……
As soon as he entered, he placed her on the table, Miaomiao sat at the edge of the table and tipped over as if she had no bones. He reached out and supported her, looked down at her face for a long time before he carefully helped her straighten the messy hair on her forehead: “We’re already married……”
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Tl bye dlhla prsjld ps tldvzu kd bkp zkql, “El’al yzalyeu xyaakle, Ykysxkys.”
“Txx?” Fbl pvyale yv bkx czydjzu, vaykzkdt swv vbl dypyz pswde, yde kv pllxle vs vyjl y zsdt vkxl qsa bla vs alprsde, “Yyaakle?”
“Ybxx.” Tl pxssvbzu pyv esod sd vbl nbyka, vssj vbl cynj sq bla byde yde jkpple kv, kdyehlavldvzu alhlyzkdt vbl czynj elrvbp kd bkp lulp, “Rv’p vss zyvl vs altalv, usw yal xkdl kd vbkp zkql.”
Nkdt Ykysxkys zssjle yv bkx ewzzu. Tl nswzed’v vlzz obyv pbl oyp vbkdjkdt, cwv pbl ealo cynj bla byde, vbld xshle bla byde cynj vs vktbvzu taypr bkp nszzya, rwzzkdt bkx vsoyae bla.
Fbl wple y zsv sq pvaldtvb yde qsa vbspl obs eked’v jdso vbl pkvwyvksd, vblu oswze byhl vbswtbv pbl oyp zssjkdt qsa y qktbv.
Mblka lulp xlv, Yw Fbldt eke dsv qktbv ytykdpv kv yde zlv bla vwt bkx yp pbl rzlyple. Nkdt Ykysxkys zssjle yv bkx, nsdqkaxkdt vbkp qsa y zsdt vkxl clqsal zlvvkdt swv y zsdt calyvb sq alzklq: “Qalyv.”
Tla lulp nwahle, alhlyzkdt y pxyzz pxkzl sq pyvkpqynvksd: “R’hl clld oykvkdt qsa y zsdt vkxl.”
Gqvla pyukdt vblpl osaep, pbl alzlyple bla takr yde ldvlale y vaydiwkz pvyvl, pxkzkdt yde nsxrzlvlzu alzymkdt.
Mu Sheng was frozen, then drove himself closer. There was a complicated light in his eyes: “Waiting for who?”
Miaomiao wrinkled her eyebrows and stared at him with resentment.
His Adam’s apple moved; he reached out and gripped her shoulders, lowering the boneless person onto the table, bracing his hands on the table, and holding her captive in the space he had created. He came closer to her face, his eyes dark under his lashes: “Waiting for who?”
Miaomiao reached out and annoyedly pushed away his ponytail that had slipped down the side of his face. His hair was shaken by her pushing; the tips swept her face and she tilted her head to avoid it and casually replied, “You, of course.”
“Yeah.” She nodded her chin proudly and pointed at his nose, smiling with a startling brilliant smile, “The black lotus, that’s you.”
She showed a mysterious and sly smile, seemingly smug because she had some secret he didn’t know about. The hair by her temples were a little loose, and the fine hairs were ruffled, like a fluffy rabbit.
“……” His eyes were glued to her, his expression became innocent, and he couldn’t resist touching her cheek with his lips: “Why?”
She stretched out her slim fingertips to point at his face first, and said succinctly, “Like…… a little white lotus.” Soon after, she poked his chest again, like a small snake gently burrowing into his embrace: “but the core is black……”
She poked, and then changed it to rubbing, like a person who feels pain around their heart and rubs forcefully on the area to relieve the pain. She rubbed the clothing covering his chest with vigor, until both the hollow of her palm and the areas around her eyes were warm and she began making a scene: “Black in the end, don’t try to be a hero……”
Her words snapped to a halt. She struggled to raise her head up to look at him. The two silky rows of eyelashes which belonged to the young man were lowered, He held her new New Year’s clothes, the petticoat ripped from the bottom, like tearing paper, being slowly ripped, the crimson skirt pushed up. Her pure white legs were pressed on the nanmu1 A precious wood that is unique to China and South Asia, and was historically used for boat building, architectural woodworking, furniture and sculptural carving in China. -Credits to Wikipedia table, sending a shock of cold running through her.
The flowers and leaves in the room wavered, and the firecrackers and fireworks outside the window did not stop until very late.
At midnight, the red lanterns inside and outside the imperial city were lit, and the palace banquet was held until midnight. The banquet seemed as if it concentrated all the bustle of the entire imperial city.
There was a stifling silence in Fengyang Palace, and only one lamp was lit in this darkness, reflecting in the countless pairs of expectant eyes, a small flickering orange-red in the dimness.
The red skirt of the woman who sat inclined beside the lamp trailed over the ground. She was reclining, half-leaning on the chaise longue, the faint light shining on her chin, her skin showing a cold and sheepish texture, a mask as thin as a cicada hanging from her fingertips, carried out from the box.
The taoists kneeling in a row anxiously looked at the open box in the hands of the person kneeling upright at the forefront, but dared not speak.
Near the end of the year, the emperor was busy dealing with the backlog of documents. It had been many days since he had the time to care about the harem, and the Bureau had completely become Duanyang’s domain. Even despite the festive New Year Eve’s celebrations, the princess continued to stay behind closed doors, absorbed in mask testing.
Because of their failure to satisfy the princess, in ten days, she had secretly dealt with five people. Though there were many idle people in the Celestial Bureau, but they also could not take the torture she was putting them through, not to mention that they had sincerely believed that the princess had gone completely crazy.
That face which was as delicate as a flower, in their eyes, looked like a nightmare.
After putting on the mask, the princess’s’ index finger slowly smoothed out the creases at the side of her ear, stroking this completely different face as if no one else was there, and let out a sigh of satisfaction. A fine tremor ran through the mirror in front of her suddenly, and she raised her head to find that it was the hand of the skinny maidservant holding the mirror that was trembling.
“Pei Yun.” She gently opened her lips, gazed at her unnaturally blinking eyes, and smiled, “Tell me, is it similar?”
Pei Yun had been sick before, it was as if she had been drained of her vitality by someone. She was so thin that only her skeleton remained, and her two eyes looked abnormally large, looking at the princess with trepidation, “Replying to Your Highness…… it is similar.”
She stood up with interest, lifted Peiyun’s chin ,and looked at her trembling lips: “Exactly the same?”
“Exactly…… the same……this servant…… can barely tell them apart.” She stumbled in response.
The current princess made her a little scared for some unknown reason.
“Very good.” The princess turned her face, her glaze-like maroon pupils reflecting a little light, surprisingly containing a hint of laughter. For such a pleasant expression to appear on this cold face, it looked a little out of place.
A few of the taoists looked at each other, but they were knew enough to touch the ground with their heads and said in unison, “Congratulations to the princess.”
Congratulations, what for? Several people thought this with grievances in their hearts. Lying on the ground, all that could be seen was the hem of her skirt trailing to the ground, which seemed as if it was tightly covering their hearts.
“Change my clothes, ready a horse.” Duanyang retracted her smile and quickly made her way towards the inner hall.
“Princess, Princess, where is the princess going……” Peiyun pulled her back. It was a long time before she dared to speak out to persuade her, “Today…… today is New Year’s Eve, you did not go to the palace banquet, later…… soon, His Majesty will certainly come to ask.”
Duanyang stopped in her tracks, looking back at her outstretched arm. Her gaze turned to the taoists who were kneeling on the ground and did not dare to get up, her emotions indistinguishable from her face.
“By the way, I almost forgot one thing.” A beat later, she slowly smiled, “Loyal subjects, you’ve worked hard.”
Beckoning with her hand, the guards of Fengyang Palace gathered around, the taoists only heard the clash of silver armor in their ears before shadows covered their heads. They slowly looked up, only to see her smiling red lips part and close: “On your way to the underworld…… you may keep each other company.”
The sun had not yet risen, outside the window, the red leaves looked like fire, clear frost hanging from the leaves, the chirping of birds seeming to echo.
Liu Fuyi got up early and said hello to Mu Yao who walked out of the room from the other side.
“Fuyi, where are you going so early in the morning?” Mu Yao was a little surprised.
“To the town, to buy a new bamboo sieve.” Liu Fuyi sighed and said, “Our bamboo sieve was taken away by Miaomiao, and it was used on the bird, so I don’t think it can be used anymore.”
Mu Yao remembered that scene and couldn’t help but curl up her fingers against her mouth to maintain the calm look on her face.
“Yao’er, let’s go together.” Liu Fuyi looked at her and smiled, naturally extending his hand and said, “They’re not up yet, we can’t count on them.”
Mu Yao blushed a little, knowing that there was no one there, but she still looked around a few times guiltily, and then she quickly put her hand in his hand.
A smile appeared on Liu Fuyi’s handsome face, the hand holding her hand tightened, leading her out the door.
As everyone was celebrating the New Year, most of the handwork product stores in the town were closed, and only one was left open, with little business.
The lady boss was absent-mindedly lying on the counter, weaving bamboo baskets without a hitch. Even when Liu Fuyi bent down and picked up the bamboo sieve on the floor, she didn’t raise her eyes.
“Here, take a look.” Liu Fuyi said and handed her the bamboo sieve; his tone was very lighthearted, like a child who had seen something good and was showing it off to his companion.
Mu Yao shook her head, then said embarrassedly, “I…… I don’t know how to pick either.”
Liu Fuyi gave a laugh and put it back: “They’re all round, there’s nothing to pick.”
The store was around six to ten meters long. It was very cramped; in the front was the counter, in the back was a screen which roughly blocked the bedroom. The silhouette of a man carrying a few children could be seen occasionally passing by the screen.
Mu Yao looked around, the furnishings were extremely old, the roof was broken with a few holes, and there was a jar below to catch rainwater. It seemed the family’s situation wasn’t very good and so, despite the New Year, they weren’t allowed to rest.
Liu Fuyi also saw this. He picked out a bamboo basket and gave an extra piece of silver when paying. Smiling gently, he spoke, “Thanks to the shopkeeper, otherwise I don’t know where else I would go to buy a bamboo sieve.”
A surprised smile blossomed over the lady boss’s face and she repeatedly gave them thanks.
“Mother!” A little boy bypassed the screen and ran to the counter with his bare feet pattering, holding an open box in his arms, “Can I take some money from inside?”
The wooden box contained some trinkets, the bottom layer had a few silvers and pearls, probably clothing embellished pearls left by a nobleman. The boy ran all the way over, the things in the box clattering loudly.
The box was obviously extremely precious to them. The lady boss’s face changed in a flash, she grabbed the box and held it preciously in her arms, reprimanding: “Are you looking for trouble?! Who let you run around with it.”
She scolded the child a few times and reached out to close the box.
Mu Yao unintentionally glanced down, and her footsteps that turned to leave suddenly stopped.
“What’s wrong?” As soon as Liu Fuyi turned around, she saw her eyes staring straight into the box, her face a little pale, “Yao’er?”
Mu Yao took a few steps over and looked somewhat out of shape at a piece of paper stuck vertically to the side of the box, only a corner of the yellow paper showing, with a somewhat faded and complex symbol drawn on the corner.
Liu Fuyi followed her gaze and looked at it for a long time. Finally, it registered, the pattern……
She stretched out her finger and pointed at the box, “That, can I look at it?”
The boss lady looked at her and dubiously pulled out the piece of kraft paper, which turned out to have a thickness to it, it was an envelope, which appeared to be somewhat old, yellow and brittle at the edges, and when the light shone through it, it looked like dried fallen leaf.
Mu Yao’s eyes were fixed on the symbol painted on the envelope: “This is the symbol of my Mu family.”
“Ah.” The female boss narrowed her eyes and seemed to think for a long time, “Is your surname Mu?”
Mu Yao raised her head and eagerly said, “I am the current head of the Mu family, my name is Mu Yao……”
“No.” The boss lady shook her head, “I don’t recognize you.”
She struggled to think for a while, “This letter was returned by someone, about six or seven years ago.”
“There was an out-of-town woman surnamed Bai, who was very pretty.” She gestured, “She’d been around for days, seemingly looking for someone.”
“She heard that the man in my family was working at the docks and could be entrusted with letters, so she wrote two letters to me here, one to the one surnamed Mu and one to the one surnamed…… Bai, probably her mother’s family.”
“The one with the surname Bai, was this.” She pointed to the letter, “It was not successfully sent out, the person who sent the letter, returned it. When it was returned back, she had already gone. I wanted to open it to see. But I couldn’t open it, so I kept it.”
The Mu family symbol on the letter was both a deterrent and a seal, sealing the envelope, the content was top secret, not for outsiders to know.
Six to seven years ago, was that not…… the eve of the extermination of their family?
It turned out that Bai Jin had come to Wufang Town at that time.
Mu Yao opened her mouth, her voice was dry: “Bai Jin…… was my mother.” She stretched out her hand, “Can…… you let me see it?”
Her fingertips rested on the envelope, with a faint flash of light, the symbol disappeared, Mu Yao and Liu Fuyi looked at each other, with trembling hands, she drew out the letter.
Ever since daughter, Bai Jin, arrived at Wufang Town, there has been no sign of the resentful banshee. Thinking about the recent changes at home, I often feel uneasy. It’s possible that it is related to the resentful banshee and the karma resulting from the past. Since autumn, she has been coughing up a great amount of blood and I am afraid that she does not have much time left. In case something happens, I will leave a letter to my parents and elder brother.”
Translator: Surprise! An extra chapter this week~ Thanks for following us through the course of this novel! <3 U