“It’s so hot, I feel like I’m melting.” The little palace maid, Peiyu, hurriedly ran into the Fengyang Palace. Her sleeves were rolled up to her elbows and large beads of sweat dotted her forehead as she complained, “Sis, the cicadas outside are crying out like they’ve gone insane!”
The palace maid on duty made a ‘shhh’: Be quiet, the princess is resting—- hurry and fix your clothes, what kind of embarrassing appearance is that?”
Peiyu made an ‘oh’ sound and walked quietly into the inner hall.
Layer upon layer of satiny muslin formed a soft cloud, covering up the soft sounds she made.
“At the time we were all standing guard outside and seemed to hear the sound of the door being knocked on. But her highness had given the orders to not enter without commands, especially saying so. Thus, everyone was hesitant when that white clothed young noble simply walked past us.”
Peiyun had her lashes lowered as she carried a small round box. Her hands softly moved as she spread the ointment over her afflicted areas. “It was all inner palace slave girl servants at the scene and none of them noticed when he stood right there. They didn’t even have the mind to block him when he pushed open the hall door.”
Duanyang’s ears were wrapped up in gauze and looked a bit comical. Her eyes blinked as they seemed to be focused on something far away. She withdrew her arm into her chest as a smile surfaced on her lips: “Peiyun, did you take a good look at his appearance?”
The following parts of the text will be scrambled to prevent theft from aggregators and unauthorized epub making. Please support our translators by reading on secondlifetranslations (dot) com
“R’hl zkhle qsa ps xydu ulyap cwv R’hl dlhla plld pwnb y vaydpnldeldv yde bydepsxl rlapsd zkjl bkx kd vbl nyrkvyz.” Gp pbl prsjl, bla hsknl talo iwklvla cwv sd vbl nsdvayau, vbl cyzz sq qkal okvbkd bla lulp talo, rlabyrp swv sq pwarakpl sa rlabyrp swv sq xlzydnbszu.
Mbyv eyu, vbl pju oyp pwqqwple cu vbl nszsa sq vbl plvvkdt pwd. Tl pvsse rlaqlnvzu pvayktbv yde bkp ascl qzwvvlale yzsdt kd vbl okde…
Vlkuwd aszzle wr vbl pnalld sd vbl cle okvb psxl blpkvyvksd sd bla qynl, “Tsolhla, rakdnlpp, vbyv uswdt dsczl kp y Plxsd Twdvla qasx fkydtbw1  Kkydtbw: Nkvlayzzu vaydpzyvlp kdvs akhlap yde zyjlp. Jypknyzzu alqlap vs vbspl obs zkhl yd kdelrldeldv zkql qall qasx psnklvu. Rd psxl dshlzp/pvsaklp, kv alqlap vs vbl xyavkyz yavp osaze. . Tl…”
”Ebyv’p oasdt okvb y Plxsd Twdvla qasx fkydtbw?” G pvalyj sq yddsuydnl qzypble vbaswtb vbl rakdnlpp’p qynl clqsal y pxkzl sdnl ytykd pwqqwple bla qynl, “Tl kp vbl cldlqynvsa obs pyhle xu zkql. Pslpd’v Usdpsav Ysvbla yzps rwv bkx kd yd kxrsavydv rspkvksd? Tl bye xwnb xsal nswaytl nsxryale vs vbspl uswdt xypvlap qasx ckt qyxkzklp. Rq bl olal vs plvvzl esod kd Ubydt Gd, R’x pwal bl’p vs byhl cswdezlpp rasprlnvp.”
Gv vbl pkel, Vlkuw’p ytl oyp pvkzz y zkvvzl uswdt. Tla byka oyp cawpble wr kdvs y vktbv cwd yde iwkvl xydu pvaydep sq byka bye cwapv swv sq kvp nsdqkdlp. Fbl pvsse vblal zkpvldkdt qsa y obkzl clqsal cwvvkdt kd: “Eswze Zswdt Lsczl Nkw alyzzu pvyu kd Ubydt Gd? R pyo vbyv vblal oyp y obkvl nzsvble blaskdl clpkel bkx yde vblu pllxle vs cl y vbkdt.”
Mbl rakdnlpp’p lmralppksd vwadle tzssxu yde bla calyvbkdt vwadle bwaakle. Rv vssj bla y zsdt vkxl vs nyzx esod bla xldvyz pvyvl: “Mbyv osxyd’p byka kp pvkzz nsxcle kdvs vbl byka sq y xykeld. Tso es usw jdso vbyv pbl yde Zswdt Lsczl Nkw yal y nswrzl?”
Vlkuw vssj y tzydnl yv bla lmralppksd yde bla lulp aszzle yp pbl tzllqwzzu qszzsole wr: “Vakdnlpp kp aktbv, vblu’al elqkdkvlzu fwpv nsxrydksdp vbyv osaj vstlvbla —- zlv xl pyu kv, sq yzz vbl tkazp kd vbl osaze, obs nyd nsxryal vs swa rakdnlpp aktbv?”
Vlkuwd iwklvzu zkpvldle vs vblx okvb bla blye esod, dsv xyjkdt y pkdtzl pswde.
Duanyang couldn’t suppress the arch in her smile but still feigned anger as she snatched the round brocade pillow and weakly threw it at Peiyu: “All you know is how to flatter me!”
Peiyu caught it and bounced over to Duanyang’s side, putting a comfy pillow behind her back. She pushed a few times on Duanyang’s position but she didn’t move and the two of them played around by the bed for a while. When Peiyu retreated, she accidentally knocked into Peiyun.
Peiyun felt as if she didn’t fit into this scene before her. Just like a cat that got licked by a tongue of fire, she silently retreated away.
Duanyan sat at the makeup station and carefully scrutinized herself in the mirror. She was a bit annoyed as she looked at the gauze wrapped around her ears: “Peiyun is good at everything… she’s just a little too taciturn, it dampens one’s mood.”
Peiyu pursed her lips into a smile. Her cheeks were uplifted as dimples appeared on her face. She gave off a feeling of youthful cuteness as she said: “Big sister Peiyun is one of His Majesty’s people so naturally her speech and actions reflect upon His Majesty.”
Her small hands wrapped around the comb as she carefully swept past her ears. She lifted a section of her hair and a fresh peony appeared beside her ear.
Duanyang slightly frowned and her clear expression turned dark: “Brother Emperor has never liked me. Even the slave servants reply to me with a veneer of hidden distaste. How morose I feel.” Her finger twirled around her hair and then touched the delicate and beautiful fresh flower by her ear. Her mood once again rebounded into a merry state, “Peiyu, do you think this flower is too gaudy?”
Peiyu’s hands were on her shoulders as she praised her with a grin: “This flower can’t take away any of the Princess’s bearing. Anyone who sees it would feel as if the person was more lovable than the flower.”
Duanyang couldn’t help but burst out in a giggle: “Only you are so quick-witted.”
She stood up, “I heard that Consort Mother is receiving him in the drawing room…” She reached out and tidied up her hair for the last time as she couldn’t suppress the smile rising upon her lips, “Perfect, this princess shall also go take a look at the benefactor who saved me.”
The summer sun was especially brilliant and the spaced out wooden fence of the Liuyue Palace drew neat and orderly shadows on the ground. The scorching rays of the sun shone down and the roar of cicadas was near deafening. Duanyang lifted her skirt as she leaped down from the palanquin and walked under the eaves in a few steps.
“Your highness, please.” The female official often by Dowager Consort Zhao’s side was by the vestibule and paid respects to her. The princess half turned her head over with arrogance written all over her face: “What’s wrong? Consort Mother is in the hall. Can I not enter?”
“Replying to the princess, her highness and guests are discussing important matters…”
Princess Duanyang had already passed through the screen and saw the blurry figures of several people in the hall. Upon noticing the figure of a white clothed taoist on the right side of Dowager Consort Zhao, she seemed to lose her senses.
The great hall was full of a strange silence. A well-built person was currently kneeling on the ground frantically kowtowing: “Your highness, this lowly servant was truly wrongly accused! This lowly servant didn’t know! It was obviously a good stick of incense, how could… how could there be this sort of thing…”
Dowager Consort Zhao’s brows had basically been wrung into a fried dough twist. Her expression was very complicated and it was only a long while later that she carefully asked: “… Sorceress Mu was everything you said false?”
Mu Yao’s clear voice was indifferent: “I absolutely won’t admit that I’m wrong.” Lu Jiu, who she shielded behind her, was pale in the face. His silk robes were wet with sweat and on his shoulder blades, two deep patches were visible.
”Guo Xiu!” Alarm flashed through Dowager Consort Zhao’s eyes and she abruptly slapped the table. Her sharp voice was nearly breaking: “You… you sure have some huge guts…”
Guo Xiu’s face was filled with astonishment and he nearly fell over paralyzed. His mouth gaped open but out of expectations, once he lifted his face, he started uncontrollably crying with tears and snot flowing everywhere: “Maternal Aunt! Maternal Aunt, please save me! Your nephew really didn’t know anything…”
Liu Fuyi and Mu Yao shared a look. They were both flabbergasted. This Guo Xiu actually climbed up the ranks via marital relations; He was actually related to Dowager Consort Zhao.
”Don’t call me maternal aunt. Do I have a nephew like you?” Dowager Consort Zhao lowered her voice with ruthlessness appearing on her countenance. She appeared just like a fierce beast roaring quietly: “Are you not satisfied with this poor showing? Did you think that I didn’t know what you were doing under my eyelids?! If you court death, don’t even think of getting others to protect you…”
”Maternal aunt! Maternal aunt, your nephew truly has been wrongly accused…”Guo Xiu knocked his head against the ground a loud sound appeared, “Your nephew… your nephew is greedy for material riches but your nephew doesn’t even have the guts to kill a fowl, how could I possibly have the courage to commit murder… this batch of incense was sourced from a merchant called Li Zhun at the Jingyang Slope outside of the Chang An city walls. At the time, I only thought that it was cheap and didn’t think that there’d actually be such a thing within…”
Hearing these words, Dowager Consort Zhao let out a breath of air and coldly harrumphed. She seemed to collapse onto the back of the chair before turning around to consult: “Taoist Liu…”
Liu Fuyi and Mu Yao exchanged glances before nodding: “There are many ashes of the dead mixed into the sandalwood incense. Their motives aren’t clear and the truth is obscure. There definitely is some inside story here.” Mu Yao’s expression was very solemn, “Your highness, please allow us to investigate this Certainly Plum shop.”
Dowager Consort no longer wanted to bring up annoying matters but the matters themselves pulled her along so she could only weakly wave her hands to let Guo Xiu get up: “— I knew that you never had the courage. What else do you know? Hurry and speak it out for these two taoists.”
Princess Duanyang fell into a trance upon hearing all of this. She accidentally touched a bead of the separating curtain, causing a piercing clink to spread out. Dowager Consort Zhao’s eyes were sharp and noticed the eastern pearls adorning the silk shoes on Duanyang’s feet from afar. She was astonished inside as she called out: “Minmin? What are you doing standing there?”
The female official could only help her push aside the bead curtain. The luxuriously dressed Duanyang entered the hall properly and as she neared Liu Fuyi, her heart started to thump furiously. She took a side glance at him before lightly floating over with flowery steps to Dowager Consort Zhao’s side. She clutched onto her arm and her voice was even softer than normal: “Consort Mother!”
A thick fragrance of one just having gotten out of a bath covered the princess’s body. Dowager Consort Zhao’s eyes focused on the fresh flower atop her head for a moment and her heart thumped as she felt a bad premonition: “Your health hasn’t recovered yet, how could you run all the way here?”
Duanyang turned her body around, revealing her bright and sunset-rose face to curtly show courtesy to Liu Fuyi: “I came to show my gratitude to these taoist benefactors that saved my life.”
“Daughter has already arrived at Chang An. Temporarily, we’re staying in the Imperial Palace. The food and drink here is extremely bountiful and excellent. Father has no need to worry…” Ling Miaomiao bit the end of the brush as she thought all day long before finally adding in: “The heat has affected my appetite and I’ve lost a few jin of weight lately. But, I’m very happy here. Oh yes, The molasses stuffed steamed buns were very delicious, father must reward our chef for it.”
She folded the letter in two and lifted her head in search of an envelope. But, instead of an envelope, she noticed a white hand supporting itself on the table.
Ling Miaomiao abruptly spun around and faced Mu Sheng who didn’t have the time to regain his face: “You! How could you sneakily watch others write letters!”
Mu Sheng coldly smiled and retreated two steps. He calmly sat down in a chair full of composure and lifted his long legs: “I was wondering who you were writing a letter to. So it’s your father.”
”What’s wrong with writing to my father?” Ling Miaomiao gave him a look like he was weird, “I left home for three months without ever sending back a letter. He is most definitely wiping away his tears at home.”
“…” Mu Sheng tilted his head to the side and looked out the window. The sunlight shone through the darkness of the window frame to light up his face, “I didn’t think that Miss Ling was a home-loving person.”
“Thanks.” Ling Miaomiao purposely ignored the ridicule in his tone as she stuffed the letter into the envelope. She took a glance at Mu Sheng’s expression before happily filling in: “You must often write letters home too right?”
She knew that he didn’t have much intimate family and just poked him where it hurt, just to let the black lotus experience some pain.
Mu Sheng looked like he didn’t have much of a reaction. He spun the Demon Restraining Circlet around his left wrist as he apathetically replied: “I’ve seen sis write them before. However, they’re not the same as the one you wrote.”
“She starts the letter with ‘Dear mother and father,’ and ends the letter with ‘Your daughter Mu Yao has finished reporting.’ She’d never write something like molasses steamed buns.”
Ling Miaomiao coughed: “Your family is all very serious, not at all like me and my father, cheeky and impolite.”
Mu Sheng’s lips slightly curled up and it looked like a fake smiling expression appeared on his face. This expression of his looked both like it was mocking and jealous of her.
Miaomiao moved a chair over to sit beside him: “You’ve never written a letter yourself?”
Mu Sheng hesitated for a moment before his brows scrunched up: “Write a letter to Mu Huaijiang and Bai Jin?”
”Yep.” Ling Miaomiao faintly knew that Mu Yao’s parents treated Mu Sheng terribly but didn’t know of the exact reason. She also didn’t know if the black lotus was properly nursing a grudge for this. Hiding the good intentions of others and trying to dig out a bit of the demon hunter family’s old history.
Mu Sheng coldly smiled: “I don’t care about them. They also don’t care about me. Sis writing a letter to them is more than enough, no?”
Even though he was lazily reclining into the chair, his whole body was completely covered with precautionary wariness just like a tightly drawn bow. “Other than the family law, what else have they ever given to me?”
His dark pupils slightly spun as he gently caressed the white headband he wore. He suddenly changed to a smile, “Oh, I nearly forgot. There’s this as well.”
Miaomiao raised her head and asked curiously, “Is this headband something Sister Mu’s mother gifted to you?”
 Jianghu: Literally translates into rivers and lakes. Basically refers to those who live an independent life free from society. In some novels/stories, it refers to the martial arts world.
 Fried Dough Twist:
 Bead curtain: