Disclaimer: this is an abridged version of Chubby Cheeks‘ translated chapter. Please follow the link for the complete chapter, translator notes, characters lists, etc.
Chapter 86: Bloodbath
After the wedding sedan went through more than half of the capital, it finally entered into the residence of Prince Yu of the First Rank.
There were already a number of guests that had arrived. Although Prince Yu was considered fierce and cruel, ministers and officials would still attend as he was after all one from the Imperial family. Emperor Wen Hui and the Princes had yet to arrive but gifts were already sent from the Palace.
Probably because Wen Hui’s attitude made Prince Yu unhappy, when the people from the Palace came, he did not give thanks or drink a cup of wedding wine. When the GongGong from the Palace saw such a scene, he scoffed in his heart. Perhaps to others they were only worthless castrated people, but in fact they were the people who were the closest to the Emperor. Prince Yu still carried on as usual but Emperor Wen Hui was no longer as tolerant as before. Prince Yu’s actions today would only make Emperor Wen Hui angrier.
When the people from the Palace left, Prince Yu then turned his head to instruct the servants to continue to welcome the guests. Today Prince Yu of the First Rank wore intricately embroidered, bright red wedding robes and had to fill his face with smiles, even though no one knew for whom he was smiling. When one saw his smile, a layer of goosebumps would form.
The Shen family also arrived. Shen Gui and Shen Wan had long gone to look for their familiar colleagues for a chat. Shen Gui was currently fixing a broken pot. Since everyone was aware of Shen Qing’s scandal, he wanted to take advantage and use the relationship with Prince Yu to pave the way for his career. As for Shen Wan, naturally he would not miss this opportunity either.
Shen Xin and Luo Xue Yan sat together at the bride side of the family and they looked down upon Shen Gui’s attitude. Ren Wan Yun came over and sat with Shen Yuan. She had carefully done her makeup to cover up her red eyes, and she was afraid of angering Prince Yu so she forced herself to smile. Shen Yuan did not have any expression but the look that he gave when his eyes swept by Shen Miao was filled with meaning.
Shen Qiu noticed Shen Yuan’s gaze and often blocked it in a huff. When Luo Xue Yan notices, she asked, “Dumb boy, what is with you and Shen Yuan?”
Shen Xin couple was not aware of Shen Qing’s and Shen Miao’s grudge so Shen Qiu responded vaguely, “He is not pleasing to the eye thus there is a little friction.”
“You are really good.” Luo Xue Yan glared at him, “To hit a person without martial arts. Shen Qiu, how old are you this year?”
Shen Qiu looked towards Shen Miao for help but Shen Miao only feigned ignorance and looked at her tea cup.
The guests complimented each other and from all appearances, it was a scene of peace. In a blink of an eye, it was time for the wedding ceremony.
Shen Qing’s head was covered and she was supported by her maids Chun Tao and Xue Li. After bowing to the heavens and the ancestors, Shen Gui’s expression was very awkward. Prince Yu’s eyes were laughing as he looked at him, as it was a terrifying matter letting Prince Yu bow to them.
Sure enough the steward of Prince Yu residence haughtily said, “His Highness the Prince of First Rank is feeling inconvenienced so this ceremony would be excused.”
When the words were out, the hall fell into silence. Ren Wan Yun gritted her teeth and even the muscles on her cheeks were trembling. Bowing to Heavens and ancestors were completed but when it was time to bow to the parents, Prince Yu then remembered that he was feeling inconvenienced. This was obviously indication that Prince Yu did not recognize Shen Qing, and also deliberately embarrassed Shen Gui and Ren Wan Yun.
Although Shen Gui felt his face was scorching hot, he immediately said, “Since His Highness is inconvenienced, then it should be excused.”
The younger guests did not cover up their laugher and Ren Wan Yun almost rushed up to quarrel with them. Just as she was unable bear it, Shen Yuan suddenly held her arm and shook his head gently. Ren Wan Yun calmed down and Shen Yuan retrieved his hand back before his eyes landed on Shen Gui who was smiling flatteringly, and his expression became darker.
“Number Two’s actions are really too shameful.” Luo Xue Yan said, “How could one let others bully one’s daughter like this?”
“I initially though he only coveted wealth and did not think that he was completely ridiculous.” Shen Xin shook his head and said in a disappointed tone, “How did Number Two become like this?”
At the other end, Shen Yue’s entire family also turned red. Shen Gui’s attitude made them feel shameless.
After Prince Yu humiliated Shen Gui, he was very satisfied seeing everyone’s contempt of the Shen family. During the bowing with the bride, he deliberately prolonged the time. Shen Miao did not know if she was seeing things but when the bride walked by them, it seems like her body was shaking.
Even the crashing of the bridal chambers was avoided for this marriage. Shen Qing was currently pregnant and one feared that there would be an accident, and no one could afford to bear the offense of harming a Royal member, so after Shen Qing was sent to the bridal chambers, Prince Yu was still outside at the banquet, drinking and making merry.
“Congratulations to His Highness Prince Yu of the First Rank.” The officials came over to toast.
“Same to you.” Prince Yu replied. On the surface Prince Yu was happy but Shen Miao did not miss his occasional cold expression when he swept his eyes over or when he suddenly made a dirty gesture and licked his lips.
Shen Miao just looked on calmly at such a malicious expression, but Shen Qiu saw her staring in the distance and also looked towards the direction of her gaze, “What is Younger Sister looking at?”
Prince Yu had already turned around to drink with others so Shen Qiu did not see anything. Shen Miao stood up, “It is a little stuffy, I will go outdoors for a breath.”
“I will accompany you.”
“No need. There is Mo Qing and the rest guarding outside. I will not go far.” Shen Miao refused him and left alone.
Prince Yu residence was very big and Mo Qing was guarding outside in the garden. When he saw her going out, he immediately got up. Shen Miao did not go far, she just stood at one spot and looked entranced at the Southwest corner of Prince Yu residence.
“Fifth Younger Sister.”
Shen Miao turned around and Shen Yuan smiled at her.
Shen Yuan’s smile was different from Fu Xiu Yi’s gracefulness and also different from Shen Qiu’s honesty, and was even more unlike Ji Yu Shu’s mischievousness. His smile always seemed to contain other intentions and made one feel very uncomfortable. And when he stared at other people’s eyes, it was like a poisonous snake that was eyeing its prey.
Shen Yuan was a fearful opponent in the Shen family’s Second Household.
“The banquet is only at the halfway point and Fifth Younger Sister came out alone. I thought Fifth Younger Sister had some kind of secret to play behind Older Brother’s back.”
It was already in the severe winter and the flourishing flowers had long died, and there was nothing left on the branches save for some snow. She said, “Then why did Second Older Brother follow out? To take a peek at my secret?”
“I did have the intention to peek.” Shen Yuan said, “It is just that Younger Sister hid it so securely that I, your Older Brother, was unable to do anything. But thinking that you and I are considered as brother and sister, if there is an opportunity, one should give you some advice.”
Shen Miao turned her head around and stared at him without blinking, “One would like to hear the details.”
“In fact in my return to the capital, one found that Fifth Younger Sister has changed a lot. Perhaps Fifth Younger Sister has grown up or perhaps there is someone showing guidance. But I, the Second Older Brother, have walked on more roads than Fifth Younger Sister and see some matters more clearly that you.” He paused and looked at the wedding hall. In there, voices were exchanging wishes and cups were clinking. Even the words of fawning could be heard from afar. Shen Yuan said, “Today at Qing-er’s wedding, does Fifth Younger Sister feel happy?”
“Honestly speaking, it is to the satisfaction of one’s heart.” Shen Miao smiled lightly.
A flash of color appeared in Shen Yuan’s eyes before he laughed, “Fifth Younger Sister really does not know to exercise restraint. The grudge between you and Qing-er has already reached the point it won’t rest till one’s death. Now that Qing-er has been sent into Prince Yu residence, one might think this is victory but this just indicates a heart of a child.” He touched Shen Miao’s head, like a close brother, “But it is not necessarily that Qing-er does not have a chance to turn around after entering Prince Yu residence. One cannot say for sure what Qing-er’s days will be like but one would be afraid that Fifth Younger Sister will be struggling a lot.”
Shen Miao did not speak as Shen Yuan continued, “If I were Fifth Younger Sister, one would not have given Qing-er an opportunity in the beginning and would have removed the opponent completely. The so-called pique and so-called letting the opponent suffer more pain, are only increasing one’s trouble.” He looked at Shen Miao and smiled kindly, “It is assumed that you are still young and do not understand the logic that tolerating is only nurturing an evildoer.”
Shen Miao quietly looked at Shen Yuan and her heart was slightly moved. Shen Yuan was indeed the most intelligent person of the Second household and he did not see the process but just looked at the result. This kind of person, calm and rational, would not be emotional because of other things thus when dealing with such a person, one could not be enraged.
“What Second Older Brother said is correct. I am after all young and do not treat relations lightly.” When such mocking words landed in Shen Yuan’s ears, Shen Yuan smiled without a care but before he could speak, Shen Miao said, “Even though I am not like Second Older Brother treating relations lightly, but on one point I am similar to Second Older Brother, which is I too do not like to retain future trouble. You take a guess if Eldest Sister would be able to turn around after marrying into Prince Yu residence?”
Shen Yuan stared at her, “Do you think not?”
“Will she?” Shen Miao answered the question with another that was filled with thick provocation and ridicule.
After Shen Miao finished this sentence, she chuckled and headed back into the wedding hall.
Mo Qing looked at Shen Yuan who was still standing blankly in garden, and his heart was filled with doubt of how Shen Miao could be so happy just by talking with Shen Yuan.
No matter how grand the banquet was, there would be a time for it to end. Just when one was tipsy and merry, guests started leaving in twos and threes and Shen Miao also stepped into the carriage to return to the residence.
In the carriage, Luo Yue Yan remained silent. One did not know what she was thinking about when she held Shen Miao’s hands and asked, “Jiao Jiao, what kind of man does your heart admire?”
It was in fact somewhat out of line for a mother to ask her unmarried daughter but most likely because Shen Qing was married today, it had touched on Luo Xue Yan’s worries. She was often out in battles and she knew nothing about what Shen Miao was thinking in her heart. She only knew of Shen Miao liking Prince Ding but one may not be able to achieve happiness when marrying such a person.
Shen Miao was surprised for a moment before she smiled, “What kind of person does Mother wish for me to marry?”
Luo Xue Yan did not expect another question, so for a moment of time she just looked at Shen Miao. There was no trace of embarrassment, as if this was a common and simple question. Luo Xue Yan thought for a bit before speaking, “Mother wishes that you are able to marry a person of integrity. It would be best that his official position is not too high, wealth not too large, ambition not too extensive and residence not too complicated. Father and Mother will give you influence and wealth, and with a smaller ambition, one would sincerely love you. A simpler residence means that you will be able to quietly live on when you are married over. In short, one must sincerely respect and love you.”
Shen Miao’s eyes smiled.
“But,” Luo Xue Yan spoke till she herself smiled, “Mother knows that you at such age you would not love such person like this. You would more likely like those that stand out in a crowd. When Mother was your age, one also loved young and handsome heroes but Mother does not regret being married to your Father.”
“I will listen to Mother,” Shen Miao said softly.
Luo Xue Yan was stunned, “What?”
Shen Miao looked at her and said word for word, “To marry an ordinary person that can love and respect me, is not that Mother’s wish? Therefore, in the future when one reaches a marriageable age, I will marry a person like this.”
Luo Xue Yan held onto Shen Miao’s hands and felt strange in her heart. One would be very happy to have such an obedient daughter like this but Luo Xue Yan was not even a bit happy. As if the girl in front was not supposed to be so gentle, and should be a little more arrogant, more rebellious and more lively. One felt inexplicably sad.
Luo Xue Yan pulled Shen Miao into an embrace and said in a low voice, “Even so, at your current age, it is not too much to like whatever kind of person. Mother knows whoever Jiao Jiao places in her heart would be a good person. Our Jiao Jiao is so good, he would definitely love and respect Jiao Jiao. If Jiao Jiao likes, even if he is not an ordinary person, as long as he treats Jiao Jiao well, Mother will not stop you.”
Shen Miao buried her head into Luo Xue Yan’s embrace and her voice was almost not visible, “Thanking Mother.”
On the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, it snowed again.
Actually when it was approaching the beginning of the year, for several days the weather turned sunny. Who knew that on this night, there would actually be a rare snow storm.
There were no pedestrians on the Ding capital streets and all the businesses were closed. The biting cold North wind blew like sharp knives carrying large coarse snows as it whistled in the air.
In front of the main doors of Prince Yu residence in the Ding capital, the hanging red lanterns were leaning unsteadily and the bright red cloth from the morning was already covered in snow. As for the two red ‘Joyous’ words that were pasted on the doors, they were already half torn away by the wind and the remaining half had holes in it.
The two guards outside had also been drinking the congratulatory wine. One of them was holding the wine gourd in his hand as he smiled, “Had not thought that there would be a day where a WangFei would come it. After that year, I never would have expected someone would marry their daughter in.”
“Hey. Are not you talking nonsense? That is not marrying in, it is clear that she was sold in. What about WangFei?” The person talking took a glance inside and shook his head, “Do not know how long can she live.”
“Perhaps it is to our advantage.” The former laughed as the malicious meaning between the words sank in.
“But Prince Yu’s child is inside. If you do not want your life then go ahead.”
A ‘chi’ sound was heard though it was a little fuzzy in the wind and snow, so that person carrying the wine gourd asked, “Just now seemed to have heard something. Did you hear it?”
“What sound?” The latter drunkenly waved his hands, “Sound of the wind. You better not be flustered.”
“Today is the wedding of the Prince. It is better nothing bad happens.” That person stood up to look but did not see anything.
“Worry for nothing.” The other guard laughed at him, “What kind of place are we at. Whoever dares to come here and behave atrociously would have lived for far too long. Hey.” He noticed something dripping onto his face and wiped it away, “Why is this snow warm?” When he opened his hands, one could see clearly it was not snow. It was blood.
That person was shocked but was quick to look up and saw a guard staring at him from the eaves, with blood dripping down his throat.
“Someb-,” He just opened his mouth when he saw a silver light flashing by. He felt that something hot was spraying from his throat and his whole body lost its strength.
When he fell onto the ground, he saw his partner also fall onto the snow and his chest was bright red. Even the snow displayed such shocking traces of it.
From the eaves of the house, dozens of people all clad in black jumped down. They also had masked their faces and almost blended into the night. Two people jumped out and moved the two corpse away and new ‘guards’ stood in front of the doors.
The black clad man in charge made a hand gesture and a line of people noiselessly sneaked into the Prince Yu residence.
In the Prince Yu residence, in His Highness room, Shen Qing was sitting on the bed and her entire body was trembling.
Prince Yu was laying on the soft couch and two irresistibly pretty maids were tenderly feeding and massaging him, and from time to time whispering words that increased one’s heartbeat. Shen Qing bit her lower lip as an unspeakable shame gurgled up in her heart.
“You should be glad that you are pregnant with this Prince’s seed.” Prince Yu’s expression darkened, “Otherwise you would not be able to get past tonight so easily.” He appreciated Shen Qing’s somewhat fearful eyes but another pair of clear and calm eyes kept coming up in his mind. Suddenly a wave of anger gushed out and Prince Yu looked at Shen Qing before saying slowly, “However, once you deliver this Prince’s child, this Prince would not ill-treat you. There are so many guards in this Prince’s residence and these guards went through thick and thin with this Prince. Since you are this Prince’s wife, you should comfort them for this Prince.”
A buzzing sound was heard in Shen Qing’s mind and she almost fainted. The terrifying things in Prince Yu’s words made her think about the future, and now even the courage to carry on living was gone.
“Ah. This Prince will definitely treat you well.” The more gentle Prince Yu’s voice was, the more fanatic his eyes became so that even the two maids beside him were somewhat trembling.
“Tremble what tremble.” Prince Yu frowned and was about to say something when the maid on the left side fell onto Prince Yu, wrapping her arms around Prince Yu’s head. Prince Yu had yet to react when the other maid suddenly took her hairpin off and pierced it onto Prince Yu’s throat.
Prince Yu screamed but he was not one who would do nothing. He viciously overturned the two maids who ended up struggled on the ground briefly before their breathing stopped.
Shen Qing was scared and hid under the table. Prince Yu pulled the hairpin out from his throat. That hairpin had not stabbed too deep but there was still a lot of blood flowing out. Prince Yu cursed before shouting, “Guards, guards.”
One guard quickly came in. Prince Yu kicked the two corpse on the ground, “Go and check what plaything are these?”
“Yes.” That guard bowed in compliance. Prince Yu just turned back when he heard a ‘chi’ sound. He looked down and saw a silver tip stained with blood sticking out from his chest.
It cleanly went through his chest.
The guard drew his sword out and Prince Yu’s body became unstable. He seemed to want to call for someone but after walking a few steps, he collapsed.
The technique was very skilful, like one slaughtering pigs or sheep. One stroke was enough to kill and no excess strokes were required.
The guard glanced at Prince Yu’s corpse and then looked towards the shivering Shen Qing under the table, “You are Shen Qing?”
“Is warrior… Are you sent by Second Older Brother to save me?” Shen Qing’s eyes lit up as she looked at the other person.
That guard did not say anything and turned to walk out.
Shen Qing had some doubts in her mind but she was afraid to face Prince Yu’s corpse so she took some gold and silver on the table and wrapped it in a cloth before heading out.
Just as she opened the door, she almost tripped and the lantern shone onto the particularly frightening body of a guard. Shen Qing screamed.
Prince Yu residence was as eerie as the underworld and the wind and snow made one unable to see the scene outside, but the thick smell of blood was like a big net, firmly covering one’s head.
It seems that even the snow had won a scarlet shade.
Western courtyard of the Shen residence.
Bai Lu closed the window and said, “The wind and snow has blown open the window a number of times, truly scary.”
“Exactly.” Shuang Jiang smiled, “Heard the old folks say that such weather like this meant that the Heavens want to punish the sinners. It seems that this time the sinner’s offences must be huge, for such a big storm like this has not been seen for many years.”
“What is Young Lady looking at?” Jing Zhe asked, “Could one be thinking about the wedding banquet?”
Since returning to the residence, Shen Miao has sat in front of the table till night had fallen. One did not know why but Jing Zhe felt that Shen Miao was waiting for something.
Waiting for what?
Shen Miao shook her head, “Just looking.”
Gu Yu and Jing Zhe looked at each other before looking outside. It was dark and nothing could be seen so what could Shen Miao be looking at?
Shen Miao’s eyes hung down while the snow was fighting outside. In just one night, how many people would head towards the underworld.
Shen Yuan said correctly, she would not give herself a road to retreat so she would not give others a road to retreat.
Her slender fingers unhurriedly tapped on the tables, as if tapping out a melancholic rhythm of a strange song from the Cold Palace.
What kind of song was that?
It was a song that sings about how the virtuous and wicked got their just rewards and how the heavenly laws were cyclical.